The United States has launched a review of the
recruitment of Saudi-supported Wahabi clerics to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military.
The Defense Department ordered the review in wake of the arrest of a
Muslim chaplain earlier this month on charges of espionage. Capt. James Yee
was accused of seizing classified files on Al Qaida and Taliban detainees at
the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Officials said the Pentagon review will focus on how the U.S. military
Muslim chaplains. They said many of the Muslim applicants were trained in
Saudi-financed institutions in the United States.
The Pentagon has authorized the American Armed Forces and Veterans
Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America to endorse
applicants for the position of Muslim chaplain in the U.S. military, Middle East Newsline reported. Most
the chaplains approved by the society have been trained at the Graduate
School of Islamic and Social Studies in Leesburg, Va.
In 2002, federal agents raided both the council and school on suspicion
that they were linked to Al Qaida. Neither institution has been formally
Two leading U.S. senators said they would hold hearings on whether
Saudi-financed Wahabi clerics have infiltrated the U.S. military. Sen. Jon
Kyl, chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism, technology
and homeland security, and Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, have
criticized the Pentagon for its accreditation process.
"My subcommittee is continuing to examine what is clearly an ongoing and
systematic effort by the radical Wahabi sect to infiltrate and recruit
terrorists within the United States, focusing primarily on chaplains in the
prison systems and in the U.S. military," Kyl said. "There is a real lack of
understanding in this country of who the enemy is. It is remarkable that
people who have known connections to terrorism are the only people to
approve these chaplains."
Kyl said the hearing on Oct. 14 will seek to determine who designated
Islamic groups to approve chaplains for the military. About a dozen Muslim
chaplains are on active duty and minister to an estimated 4,200 Muslim
Before Yee's arrest, the U.S. military detained Senior Airman Ahmad Al
Halabi on charges of spying for Syria. Court documents submitted by the air
force assert that Al Halabi, an Arabic translator for Al Qaida detainees,
was under investigation in connection with what was termed "suspicious
activities" during an earlier stint in Kuwait and the United States.
officials said they did not know why Al Halabi was later approved for duty