John Leo

At the hearing, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said another group that endorses chaplains, the Islamic Society of North America, has on its board Siraj Wahhaj, listed by the FBI as a possible conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. When Schumer learned this seven months ago, he said, he wrote to the inspectors general of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Defense, asking them to evaluate the groups nominating Muslim chaplains. Both said they would investigate, but Schumer says neither has reported back. It may be that the FBI and the Pentagon are doing a superlative behind-the-scenes job of coping with terrorist-related chaplains and translators. But out here in the open, the signs are poor. FBI Director Robert Mueller was a speaker at last year’s conference of Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council. Mueller’s spokesman has called the group “the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States.” Note that Alamoudi proclaims his support for Hezbollah and Hamas and has urged Muslims outside the United States to pray for the destruction of America.

Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics told the subcommittee that high FBI officials “have contorted themselves to unusual lengths to avoid honest discussion of the issue.” Mueller’s speeches, Waller said, “painstakingly avoid” using the words “Islam” and “terrorist” in the same sentence.

The Pentagon pays attention to political correctness too. Instead of examining the dozen Muslim chaplains, it is slogging through investigations of all the thousands of military chaplains, presumably to avoid charges of racial and religious profiling.

Other notes from the hearings: Abell told the subcommittee that some translators had been brought to Guantánamo before their security checks were complete, a very casual system for a high-security facility. Schumer said he was dumbfounded that the military allowed Muslim chaplains to travel to the Middle East on funds provided by the World Muslim League. A top official of the league, Wael Jalaidan, has been listed by the U.S. government as a founder and logistics chief of al Qaeda. Does anybody think the vigilance level is high enough?

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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