September 23, 2003


Probe of 2 Groups That Train Muslim Chaplains Sought (John Mintz and Susan Schmidt, September 23, 2003, Washington Post)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday renewed his request for an investigation into two institutes that train Islamic chaplains for the military in light of the Sept. 10 arrest of Army Capt. James "Yousef" Yee, an imam who ministered to detainees held at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [...]

When he was arrested, he had documents concerning some of the 660 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and their U.S. government interrogators, as well as sketches of facilities at the camp, officials said. A chaplain would not ordinarily have access to such documents, officials said. [...]

Yee is a 1990 graduate of West Point who commanded a Patriot missile unit before leaving the military, converting to Islam and studying for four years in Syria. He rejoined the military in the late 1990s and became a cleric at Fort Lewis in Washington state. Ten months ago he became the imam at Guantanamo Bay, where he counseled prisoners and kept prison officials advised of detainees' morale. [...]

Schumer previously raised questions about two institutes that train Islamic chaplains for the military: the Leesburg-based Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS); and the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council, which helped train Yee.

Despite Schumer's request, Pentagon and Army spokesmen said yesterday there is no review of the chaplain program being conducted.

GSISS was raided by federal agents in 2002 as part of a probe of a cluster of Northern Virginia companies and institutes that have alleged dealings with terrorists. The council is an affiliate of the Alexandria-based American Muslim Foundation, which is being investigated in the same probe.

Syria? Are we out of our minds? You can join our military fresh after four years training for anything in Syria? It's like letting guys join the U.S. Army in 1944 after training in Nazi Germany for a few years.

Muslim fifth column? (Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Sept. 23, 2003, Jewish World Review)

At this writing, it is not clear whether Captain Yee was one of those recruited, trained and certified by the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences. What is known about him, however, according to a profile that appeared in the New York Times shortly after the 9/11 attacks is that, at the time he was "The newest Muslim chaplain..., a Chinese-American and a West Point graduate who was born into a Lutheran family, took an interest in Islam in college and deepened his convictions while stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was studying vehicle maintenance during the month of Ramadan alongside four visiting Egyptian army officers. In a telephone interview, Chaplain Yee said he left the military to attend a traditional Islamic school in Damascus, Syria, where he spent four years studying Arabic and religion. He is serving with the 29th Signal Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington."

The article went on to quote Chaplain Yee as saying that, "Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, some of the 80 Muslims on his base have come to him with concerns about being deployed to fight Muslims overseas. He said he tells them, "'An act of terrorism, the taking of innocent civilian lives is prohibited by Islam, and whoever has done this needs to be brought to justice, whether he is Muslim or not.'" If true, this would be commendable and helpful to the war effort.

Unfortunately, subsequent to that interview, Capt. Yee was assigned to minister to Al Qaeda, Taliban and other enemy combatants incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to press accounts, he is suspected of performing while there a very different service for his co-religionists. When he was arrested, he was reportedly carrying classified documents, including diagrams of the facilities in which the prisoners are being held. He may also have been facilitating communications between the detainees and perhaps fellow terrorists still at large in ways that could undermine U.S. efforts to interrogate the former and counter the latter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2003 8:08 AM

I agree with your comment entirely but I don't understand what it has to do with Schumer's proposal. It's as if, after Kennedy was assasinated, someone called for a review of Marine sharpshooter training, ignoring the years Oswald spent in the USSR.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 23, 2003 8:23 AM

Full Metal Jacket's only good line would suggest that the Marines should have been investigated too.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 8:44 AM

Reminds me of the joke after WWII about an argument between an American and a Russian, with each claiming: our German scientists are better than your German scientists.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at September 23, 2003 9:09 AM


That's in The Right Stuff also.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 9:14 AM