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Monday, November 1, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Palestinians weigh Islamic indoctrination for undisciplined U.S.-trained forces

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority, alarmed by a decline in discipline, has been examining the introduction of Islamic doctrine in the security forces.


PA sources said security chiefs were discussing with the Interior Ministry the prospect of bringing in Muslim clerics to indoctrinate the 25,000 members of the security forces. They said the chiefs were seeking a means to bolster discipline within the police and security forces.

"We hope to bring Muslim sheiks for education and indoctrination," a source said.

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The sources said the proposal would require the approval of Interior Minister Said Bin Ali and Prime Minister Salam Fayad. They said the biggest concern was that Western donors, particularly the European Union and the United States, would object to the Islamization program.

The PA proposal was studied during the Muslim fast month of Ramadan, which ended in September, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said several security chiefs have sought to recruit Muslim clerics to lecture on Islamic principles and the need to obey the PA.

The sources said the proposal was drafted amid a sharp decline in discipline in the police and security forces. They said the problem was acute in the U.S.-trained Presidential Guard, responsible for the protection of Abbas.

The discipline problem was said to stem from the replacement of hundreds of commanders over the last two years. The officers, most of them who had reached retirement age, have been replaced by men in their 30s and 40s, often younger than their troops.

"This has not worked well," the source said.

So far, PA officers have drafted a guidebook based on a publication used by the security forces in Saudi Arabia. The guidebook outlined such principles as respect for religion, civilians and discipline.

The model for the Islamization proposal has been the rival Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. Hamas's military and security forces have undergone extensive Islamic indoctrination to ensure loyalty, discipline and professionalism.

The sources said the decline in discipline has been exacerbated by poor morale in many units of the security forces. They said PA officers were disappointed by poor salaries and benefits, including the refusal to acquire loans for homes.

"Right now, the only benefit that most of these people get is cheaper rates on cellphones," another source said. "This is not enough for those with families."

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