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Al Jazeera exposes 2nd anti-Islam class taught to US military officers

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Bush and Hamas One slide in an anti-Muslim class taught to US officers implies that Hamas, through CAIR, infiltrated the Bush administration. Circled in red on the right is Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director. (Screenshot via Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera English has revealed that a second anti-Muslim class was taught to senior US military officers. The class was titled “Understanding the Threat to America,” and claimed that Islamists from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the US government at the highest levels.

The Al Jazeera program “Inside Story” has the details. Watch the program here:

The report came a day after’s Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman exposed a similar course being taught at the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College. That class’ presentations included messages like “there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam’” and advocated for waging “total war” on Islam using “Hiroshima” style tactics.

Al Jazeera reported that the class it revealed was taught at a military base in Virginia, although it’s unclear if it was at the same college where the course Wired exposed was taught.

Both of the anti-Muslim classes contained material prepared by the Strategic Engagement Group, Inc, a private group that contracts with the US military, according to Al Jazeera. MSNBC’s Miguel Llanos has background on them:

The firm’s website states its president, E.J. Kimball, was formerly a foreign policy counsel to Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and created the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.

Myrick earlier wrote to Pentagon chief Leon Panetta voicing her concern that “the political nature of these (class) reviews might inadvertently weaken” military training, Al-Jazeera noted.

Stephen Coughlin, VP of strategic communication initiatives, is described as “the leading expert in the United States on Islamic Doctrine” and a U.S. Army Reserve major with military intelligence expertise.

The group says it formed in 2010 “for the purpose of exposing and defeating efforts to subvert the United States Constitution and subjugate the American People.”

The documents shown in the video demonstrate that this class revolved around the far-right conspiracy that groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have close ties to Hamas and have infiltrated the US government and media to impose their agenda. To prove this theory, one slide in the presentation shown by Al Jazeera pictured Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, with Bill O’Reilly. The implication is that O’Reilly, the brash Fox News personality, is in cahoots with Hooper and CAIR, and by extension, Hamas, because he had Hooper on his show.

“It just about drove them crazy that Bill O’Reilly said I was a stand-up guy,” said Hooper in a phone interview. “It would be laughable if it wasn’t so harmful and divisive in our society. To say that Muslims are infiltrating every level of government and controlling all departments of the government from the Justice Department to the military–it is beyond bizarre, but that’s the nature of conspiracy theories.”

The involvement of a private contractor in these courses should come as no surprise. Anti-Muslim private groups who contract with law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are ubiquitous, and we now know the military has the same problem. A report from the Political Research Associates documented the use of these private contractors. “In place of sound skills training and intelligence briefings,” the report reads, “a vocal and influential sub-group of the private counterterrorism training industry markets conspiracy theories about secret jihadi campaigns to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law, and effectively impugns all of Islam—a world religion with 1.3 billion adherents—as inherently violent and even terroristic.”

Meanwhile, more details on the first anti-Muslim class exposed by Wired have emerged. Think Progress reporters Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib have obtained hundreds of documents outlining the contents of that course. They report that well-known anti-Muslim figures like Robert Spencer, Steven Emerson, David Yerushalmi and more were cited in the Army class materials.

“These types of things are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Hooper, “and it’s all being done by a cottage industry of Muslim bashers who have unfettered access to spin their conspiracy theories for these leaders in our law enforcement community.”

How many more similar classes will be exposed?

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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11 Responses

  1. Tuyzentfloot on May 15, 2012, 5:27 pm

    A while back Seymour Hersh gave an “off the wall” speech in Qatar that couldn’t have done his reputation any good. There’s a report on it here . Hersh talked about some funny goings on with the JSOC, how important people there were involved with the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei, and perceiving themselves as crusaders. Hersh’s story sounds a bit less whacky now.

  2. Bumblebye on May 15, 2012, 5:54 pm

    Pity no group has prepared and presented the class on Zionist infiltrators making a mockery of the Constitution and subverting democracy!

  3. annie on May 15, 2012, 6:39 pm

    thanks alex, killer report/video.

  4. pabelmont on May 15, 2012, 6:45 pm

    Fascinating how ready Americans are to join hate groups. Racism seems to have an amazing seductive power. And the way the commercial anti-terrorism business has mushroomed, we can see what a wonderful business there is, and guess at the high profits, in public-private partnerships based on fear, racism, and hate. And maybe religion. And infiltration, of course — the USA’s armed forces clearly infiltrated by people with a double agenda: Islamophobia and profit-seeking. Probably an outgrowth of the mercenary business and the we-do-NSA-for the-NSA businesses, Capitalism will do anything for a profit.

    And with imprisonment (or assassination) without trial a present reality, based on allegations of terrorism, what more fun, more “powerful” to those with a bloodlust, than to be in the I-know-where-the-terrorists-are capitalist game.

  5. Les on May 15, 2012, 9:36 pm

    The Pentagon knew well what it was paying for when it ordered this made to order course. Who was their purchasing agent?

  6. PeaceThroughJustice on May 15, 2012, 10:20 pm

    Kimball is also associated with EMET, and with Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, and is on the speakers bureau of the National conference of Jewish Affairs, and I’m guessing he’s the same EJ Kimball who led team “White Tide” on the staff of Camp Avoda in 1999.

    Here he is speaking before the Boca Raton Synagogue. Seemed to have a good crowd that night–

  7. anonymouscomments on May 16, 2012, 1:22 am

    i think the most common thing we get from zionists is this….

    they acuse the “other”, generally muslims, of what THEY are 100% guilty of. same goes for most everything israel/israelis say about palestinians. it does seem odd, as their fanciful BS actually makes people look…. and what do they find corrupting our gov and foreign policy? the zionists!

    down is up, 2+2=5. hell, it is 1984.

  8. radii on May 16, 2012, 2:53 pm

    they need to teach propaganda to achieve this? so many of the 105-IQ-and-under types flock to uniform-wearing jobs and they like things simple, so many many of the WASPS and other Christians of other skin colors and backgrounds already are primed to believe this bunk or come in believing it already … “conservatives” like a simple world-view – no more than 4 large puzzle pieces that fit together easily or else they panic and can’t sleep at night … the rest of us, and most assuredly progressives, realize that to understand the world we need to contemplate a vast number of puzzle pieces and that there are complexities and odd shapes and we never ever fit them all into place – we just get close

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