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Army translator program an invitation to jihadists?
Posted By Drew Zahn On 02/20/2010 @ 12:15 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Fort Jackson NCO Club and dining room
Five Muslim soldiers under investigation for plotting to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, according to CBN News, are part of a military program that offers foreign nationals a quick path to U.S. citizenship in exchange for even just a single day of active duty.
The ability to receive expedited American citizenship from within the Army, speculates CBN Military Correspondent Chuck Holton, “must present a tempting opportunity for jihadi extremists with ulterior motives.”
As WND reported, CBN News maintains that just before Christmas, five soldiers who were part of the Arabic translation program at Fort Jackson were investigated after they were allegedly overheard discussing plans to poison food at the base.
Army Criminal Investigation Division spokesman Christopher Gray has further revealed to CBN reporter Erick Stakelbeck that the “Fort Jackson Five” were part of a small unit at the base called 09 Lima, a part of the Civilian Acquired Skills program, which welcomes into the military non-U.S. citizens who speak Arabic, Dari, Pashto or other needed languages.
One of the program’s directors, Lt. Col Frank Deminth, explains that these recruits are then placed into an expedited citizenship program, “once they serve one day of honorable active duty.”
According to an American Forces Press Service report, “The 09L program began in February 2003 when the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs was tasked with recruiting native speakers to assist U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with interpretations, translations, cultural familiarity and an understanding of the nuances of body language.”
“Commanders in the field have said that the 09 Lima program has been very successful and has helped to improve the performance of their units,” boasted Deminth in a video posted on YouTube. “The 09 Lima soldier brings with him the ability to communicate with the local populace and saves both American and local lives.”
But Patrick Poole, a counterterrorism specialist and adviser to the U.S. government and law enforcement, cautions that the military must stop dismissing warnings of jihadist infiltration.
Poole told the Washington Times that “public affairs and equal opportunity officials” are too often trumping sound intelligence and demonstrating a “professional ignorance” of domestic terrorism.
“My colleagues and I have been warning of jihadist threats – both external and internal – for several years,” Poole told CBN News. “The Pentagon has entirely ignored us, and the Ft. Hood report released last month is evidence of the culture of willful blindness that wants to pretend this threat doesn’t exist. Regardless of how the Ft. Jackson incident is resolved, it demonstrates that this threat is not going away.”
At Fort Jackson, 09 Lima recruits are taught English, American customs and military culture as a sort of pre-basic training.
Clayton Leishman, program manager, told the Association of the United States Army last summer that the 34 recruits then in the program had scored a 50 but below 80 on the English Comprehension examination, but with up to 24 weeks of individually programmed courses, the soldiers are prepared for basic training.
Capt. Dwayne Wade, company commander, said, “They learn basic military skills, but nothing that deals with a weapon. They have classes in cultural awareness, customs and courtesies, equal opportunity. We have PT every morning, mainly stretching.”
Army spokesman Christopher Garver reportedly told CBN News the five 09 Lima soldiers questioned two months ago are not currently in custody, and CBS News reports that three of the five soldiers have now been cleared.
“While the investigation continues, there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations,” spokeswoman Julia Simpkins told Associated Press. “At no time was there any danger to the Fort Jackson community.”
Fort Jackson is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army, training 50 percent of all soldiers and 80 percent of the women entering the Army each year. It’s food service reportedly includes 13 dining halls and serves about 40,000 hot meals on the base daily.
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