The Washington Times is reporting that a Pentagon specialist on Islamic law and Islamic extremist was fired from his position on the military’s Joint Staff. A previous post had reported that reserve officer Stephen Coughlin had been “pressured” by individuals within the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England after Coughlin identified groups included in a Defense Department outreach program run by an aide to England as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. According to the latest report:
Mr. Coughlin was notified this week that his contract with the Joint Staff will end in March, effectively halting the career of one of the U.S. government’s most important figures in analyzing the nature of extremism and ultimately preparing to wage ideological war against it. ….The officials said Mr. Coughlin was let go because he had become “too hot” or controversial within the Pentagon….After word of the confrontation between Mr. Coughlin and Mr. Islam was made public, support for Mr. Coughlin skyrocketed among those in and out of government who feared the worst, namely that pro-Muslim officials in the Pentagon were after Mr. Coughlin’s scalp, and that his departure would be a major setback for the Pentagon’s struggling efforts to develop a war of ideas against extremism. Blogs lit up with hundreds of postings, some suggesting that Mr. England’s office is “penetrated” by the enemy in the war on terrorism. Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for Mr. England, said “no one in the deputy’s office had any input into this decision” by the Joint Staff to end Mr. Coughlin’s contract. A Joint Staff spokesman had no immediate comment.
Interestingly, the offical Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website posted an article highly critical of Mr Coughlin written by Larry C. Johnson whose biography says is a counter-terrorism consultant who worked for the CIA from 1985-1989 and for the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism (1989-1993). Individuals from both organizations are known to have played important roles in attempting to re-categorize the Brotherhood as a moderate movement with whom the U.S. government should engage. The thrust of Mr. Johnson criticism of Coughlin is that he as a non-Arabic speaker, he was unqualified to be an expert on Islamic extremism and that:
Coughlin and others of his ilk have been pushing the hysteria that there is only one Islam and all of Islam is intent on conquering the West. (Yes there are some Muslims who believe this, but Islam is not a monolith). Pandering to peoples’ fears is an effective propaganda ploy but it does little to help our soldiers understand the cultural roots and political/religious dynamics they find in the field. You would expect that in a war inside an Arab nation, that is predominantly Muslim, the Pentagon would hire renowned experts on the topics of Islam.
More important than the issue of whether proficiency in Arabic is required in order to identify Muslim Brotherhood groups in the U.S. is why the Muslim Brotherhood itself is following this story.