Federal authorities say a high-level Muslim Pentagon aide, who led a campaign to silence a Pentagon intelligence analyst for taking a hard line against Islam, is running an “influence operation” on behalf of U.S. Muslim groups fronting for the radical Muslim Brotherhood.
Hesham H. Islam (left), Muslim aide to the deputy secretary of defense, with Muslim military chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulislam (right)
Hesham H. Islam, a special assistant to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, recently criticized Maj. Stephen Coughlin, one of the military’s leading authorities on Islamic war doctrine, for making the connection between the religion of Islam and terrorism.
After Islam lodged complaints, Coughlin’s contract with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon was not renewed.
Islam also was upset with briefings Coughlin recently prepared for the U.S. military warning that major U.S. Muslim groups were fronting for the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement based in Egypt.
Islam, who was born and raised in Egypt, is heavily involved with one of the groups ? the Islamic Society of North America, which U.S. prosecutors last year named as a member of the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and an unindicted co-conspirator in a major terror-funding case.
Islam has persuaded his boss, England, to conduct various outreach with ISNA, including hosting the group’s leaders in the Pentagon and speaking at its annual convention.
Speaking during ISNA’s 2006 opening ceremonies, England proclaimed, “There is no contradiction between the peaceful religion of Islam and America’s values and principles.”
Coughlin reached the opposite conclusion in a 329-page report submitted to the National Defense Intelligence College, in which he warns that Islamic law sanctions violence. That finding, among others, has put him at odds with Islam, whom England describes as “my personal close confidante.”
“I take his advice,” England said, “and I listen to him all the time.”
WND has learned that Islam is closely associated with a Muslim military chaplain trained at a radical Islamic school that federal agents raided after 9/11 in connection with terror-financing.
WND reported, the chaplain, Abuhena M. Saifulislam, studied Islam at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Virginia.
Recently declassified FBI documents reveal its sister organization, an Islamist think tank known as the International Institute of Islamic Thought, or IIIT, is involved in a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to wage a cultural and political jihad to eventually take over America from within ? most notably, through infiltration of government agencies.
Islam works closely with Saifulislam (Arabic for “sword of Islam”) on Pentagon outreach projects involving Middle Eastern embassies and the so-called Wahhabi lobby in Washington.
“He’s a Muslim brother,” an FBI official said of Islam. “He’s a bad actor. He’s well-positioned to be where he is, and that doesn’t do us any good.”
He also said Saifulislam is “definitely Muslim Brotherhood,” while noting that Islam “is a lot smoother than Saifulislam,” who as a chaplain at Gitmo lobbied for special meals and other privileges for al-Qaida detainees.
The official hastened to add that, at this point, belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood is not criminal, and neither Defense Department employee is the subject of a formal counterterrorism or counterespionage investigation. Both men have refused interviews, and the Pentagon had no comment.
However, the FBI official warned that the Muslim aides are part of a conspiracy by Muslim Brotherhood fronts to run “influence operations”
against the U.S. government.
“Their M.O. is to make nice for the very purpose of penetrating us,” he said, “and we just roll over for them, at least at the top levels.”
He says England, who
also recently dedicated an Islamic prayer center at Quantico on the advice of Saifulislam, is blind to the threat.
“England doesn’t know it’s an influence operation that’s been laid at his door,” he said. “His lack of awareness is irresponsible.”
A senior U.S. official who has met with England says he was not even aware that a convicted terrorist and al-Qaida fund-raiser created the Pentagon’s Muslim chaplains corps.
Adurahman Alamoudi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and founder of the American Muslim Council, placed Muslim chaplains throughout the military. He is now in jail on charges of terrorism. However, most of the chaplains he trained and sponsored are still in their current positions.
“The Islamic chaplains who serve were trained by a known terrorist,” said terrorism expert Steve Emerson.
Emerson says Islam, like Alamoudi, has invited “subversive” elements into U.S. military headquarters.
“Hesham Islam is an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators,” he said.
Emerson said a “Trojan horse” of subversives and potential spies have penetrated deep inside the Pentagon, and they are now bearing fruit with the ouster of Coughlin. Sources say Islam has high security clearance.
A former Pentagon colleague of Coughlin described Islam as a “gatekeeper,” who at a minimum, is blocking candid discussion of the religious nature of the threat posed by Muslim terrorists. Such action, William Gawthrop says, thwarts the U.S. war effort, because it denies military brass and rank-and-file the information they need to effectively fight the Islamist enemy.
“We still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by (the Muslim prophet) Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered,” Gawthrop told WND.
He says Coughlin was trying to bridge that gap before being pushed out.
Supporters of the respected contractor say Islam had a direct hand in his firing. They say that on Jan. 3 Coughlin was told his contract, which ends in March, would not be renewed because his message had become too “politically hot.”
They say that in a meeting late last year between Coughlin and a member of England’s staff, which Islam unexpectedly attended, Islam asked Coughlin to “soften his message” regarding Islamic war doctrine. Coughlin refused.
Islam was heard referring to Coughlin as a “Christian zealot with a poison pen.” The conflict resulted in his contract being terminated.
A well-placed Pentagon insider described it differently, however. Islam and Coughlin were present at the briefing, but there was no direct confrontation between the two. It was not until Hesham returned to England’s office suite that he remarked that Coughlin had a “poison pen.”
“He clearly doesn’t like him,” the source told WND.
Also, Coughlin was let go in part because his contract was up, and at $440,000, it was too steep to justify renewing, the insider says. And though he had written a 329-page thesis on the subject, he was not effective at briefing the J-2 intelligence staff of the Joint Chiefs.
“He’s brilliant, and he knows his stuff, but he couldn’t teach it,” the source said. “It went over everybody’s head.”
Still, England has not properly vetted his long-time aide, Islam. “Gordon is so trusting of this guy because he’s worked for him for so long,” the same official said. “But he’s got questionable contacts, and he (England) needs to have his antennae up.”
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