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Chaplain Lt. Abuhena Saifulislam, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England and Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee unveil a plaque at a Marine Islamic Prayer Center

An announcement that the U.S. Marine base at Quantico, Va., has refurbished a building to be used as a prayer room for Muslim soldiers and civilians on base is a “bad signal,” one critic has concluded.

The Marines announced earlier this summer that one of the buildings on the base had been repainted so that Muslims would have a place to pray and hold religious services

The new “Islamic Prayer Center” is the first of its kind on a Marine base, and “serves to express the Marine Corps’ recognition of diversity among service members and the commitment to provide continued support to all Marines regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender,” the base announcement said.

However, Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer said he wonders why the Marines do not seem concerned such facilities might to used to generate anti-American sympathies.

“It’s going to go up as part of a testament to American multiculturalism and so on without any indication of the possibility that this could be a source of what we’re fighting against,” he said. “It just sends a bad signal.”

At the dedication ceremony, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England praised the estimated 4,000 Muslims in the U.S. military. Joining him were
leaders of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

CAIR describes itself as America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group and boasts 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission, it says, is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

However, CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.

“It is sadly ironic and lost on most that the plan to dedicate the prayer center and build a new mosque was approved by military leaders occupying a building that was attacked on 9/11 – the Pentagon – where more than 100 of its occupants were killed on that day,” was the conclusion of those at Homelandsecurityus.com, a private security organization.

Stars and Stripes estimates there are 426 Muslims in the Marine Corps, and a maximum of 24 at Quantico.

The Muslim leader who worked on the project was Navy Lt. Abuhena Mohammed Saifulislam, described as a self-proclaimed Sunni Muslim who worked for awhile at Guantanamo, lobbying the Pentagon to issue prisoners prayer rugs.

The U.S., said another critic, Paul Sperry, “is giving him a permanent, taxpayer-supported platform from which to convert grunts to Islam. With the Quantico Mosque, the Pentagon is facilitating the study of the holy text the enemy uses, heretically or not, as their manual for war.”

Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and authored “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Another critical website, andrightlyso, notes that Saifulislam studied at a school in Virginia that was raided by federal agents after Sept. 11, 2001, and one of his mentors was identified as Taha Jaber Al-Alwani, who was alleged to give $50,000 to support suicide bombings.

Sperry, in FrontPageMagazine, said, “We are at war with militant Islam, but you wouldn’t know it from the Pentagon, which is busy erecting a shrine to Islam.”

Base spokeswoman Capt. Teresa Ovalle told WorldNetDaily that each religion gets its own place to worship on the military post, and since the chapel that already was being used wasn’t large enough, officials prepared the extra building for the Muslims.

“We threw some new paint on it. Once we expand the chapel area, they will be able to use the chapel like everyone else,” she said.

She said the additional building plans are scheduled to happen probably in 2007.

She described the availability of the building as good for the base, and didn’t understand all of the resistance that has been voiced.

The dedication ceremony included a recitation from the Quran by Saifulislam, Quantico’s Muslim chaplain, in Arabic and English.

England said Muslim Americans have been serving in the armed forces since World War I and later helped unveil an Arabic plaque that says, “In the name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.”


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