In 2001, former Lockheed and General Dynamics executive Gordon England was appointed by President George W. Bush to be Secretary of the Navy and soon thereafter, Hesham Islam joined his staff. When England, known condescendingly in intelligence circles as “Gullible Gordon,” ascended to the number two spot at the Pentagon (replacing notorious neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz) he took his protégé, Hesham Islam, with him.
Officially, Islam is England’s senior adviser of international affairs; unofficially he is the Pentagon’s point of contact with the Muslim community, attending fetes and addressing outreach forums hosted by a diverse spectrum of religious groups including the ignominious Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization with nefarious connections that Islam and England invited to closed-door meetings at England’s office at the Department of Defense.
The intimacy and access afforded to the ISNA is worrisome to some terrorism experts already wary of the seemingly inexplicable dismissal of Coughlin, a noted and respected authority on the subject of American radical Islamists. One expert went so far as to describe Hesham Islam as “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators.” Those are the measured words of an educated man who recognizes alarming trends in the Pentagon’s official treatment of an organization identified in a federal suit filed by the Department of Justice in Texas as an affiliate of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. And, furthermore, the Brotherhood has partnered with another radical group, the Holy Land Foundation, in a scheme to funnel money to Hamas, the infamous and murderous Palestinian terrorist group whose intifadas and jihads have resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians throughout the Middle East.
Why would a man with questionable qualifications (his official biography was removed from the Defense Department website after reporters identified numerous inconsistencies), specious experience (he brings little to the diplomatic table other than close ties of nationality and religion to Islamist extremists), and open hostility to American interests (in his master’s thesis, Hesham Islam decries the influence exerted by American Jews on American foreign policy, including the hampering of arms sales to “friendly Arab states”) be glowingly praised by his boss as “my close confidante” and the close counselor whose advice he listens to “all the time?” And the more important question — and one whose answer is perhaps critical to the security of the United States — why would such a man displant another man (Stephen Coughlin) whose work was universally acclaimed by his superiors (with the exception of England) for its foresight and perspicacity? There is no clear answer, but a brief survey of Coughlin’s recent research might reveal a clue to his demotion.
According to published reports, since 2002, Mr. Coughlin has made it “his mission to set aside the feel-good assumptions about Islam which have been guiding U.S. strategy and take an unblinkered look at the facts.” One of the most salient of these facts that were being exposed and examined by Mr. Coughlin was the probably presence in the United States armed forces of Muslim radicals with a furtive goal of carrying out the militant and murderous aims of jihad. Coughlin warned the Pentagon brass that there were dedicated jihadists wearing the uniform of the United States of America and lying in wait to attack their fellow soldiers in furtherance of their warped religious principles.
Another example of Coughlin’s warning voice being raised is his own thesis to the National Defense Intelligence College, entitled “To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad,” wherein Coughlin cites extensive evidence of radical Islamists calling for their devotees to work undercover to subvert the U.S. military and to “destroy Western civilization from within.” In light of the November 5 atrocity at Fort Hood committed by a major in the United States Army and a self-proclaimed “Soldier of Allah,” Mr. Coughlin’s admonitions seem eerily prophetic.
The problem with Mr. CoughlinGordonEngland-t-ap from the Pentagon’s point of view has less to do with his foresight than with the politically incorrect tenor of his scholarship. He has no axe to grind, but feels it his duty to alert America’s military leaders to the threat posed by Islamic radicals and their sleeper cells within and without the ranks of America’s armed forces. Mr. Islam has no such magnanimous motive — quite the opposite, in fact. As one senior Army intelligence officer reportedly said, “We’ve got terrorist supporters calling the shots on our policies towards Muslims from the highest levels.”
Gordon England’s promotion and patronage of Hesham Islam, and the ratification of that deplorable and potentially dangerous decision by Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs, despite (maybe even because of?) Mr. Islam’s unrepentant and cozy connections with avowed international purveyors of terror seem to indicate a willingness by our own defense establishment to embrace the doctrines and deeds of militant Islamists and their high-ranking mouthpiece masquerading as a peaceful policy adviser.
Photo of Gordon England (with senior ISNA officials — see rotator picture): AP Images