Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that the U.S. military plans to begin a review of its increased Muslim presence in the armed forces.

The U.S. Defense Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to discuss an examination of the Muslim presence in the U.S. military and the threat of Al Qaida influence. They said Congress was pressing for such a review in wake of the Nov. 5 killing of 13 U.S. troops by a Muslim officer.

“We have to go back and look at ourselves and ask ourselves the hard questions,” U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said. “Are we doing the right things? We will learn from this.”

The review will focus on the exact number of Muslims in the U.S. military, which has encouraged such enrollment.

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The U.S. Defense Department reported 3,409 Muslims on active military duty as of April 2008, but officials said the number could be at least three times higher.

“We believe there are many more Muslims who, when recruited, did not list their religion,” an official said. “Some of these people simply wanted to avoid harassment; others might have had a sinister agenda.”

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, born in the United States and alleged to have killed 13 soldiers in the army base at Fort Hood, Texas, did not identify himself as a Muslim when he enlisted.

Mr. Hasan was, however, recruited as part of a U.S. military drive to reach out to the Muslim community. Over the last decade, the military has intensified its recruitment of Arabic-, Farsi- and Pashtun-speaking soldiers for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Pentagon has been receiving reports of Muslim soldiers who expressed opposition to the U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. They said the opposition was encouraged by Islamic clerics as well as Muslim officers such as Mr. Hasan, who warned Muslims against harming co-religionists.

In 2003, U.S. Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, said to have opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, killed two officers and injured 14 others in a grenade attack. Mr. Akbar, a convert to Islam, was sentenced to death.

The U.S. military has sought to shield Muslims from retaliation in Afghanistan and Iraq. In many cases, they said, Muslim soldiers were ordered to use fake family names to prevent reprisals against their families abroad.

Some in Congress have called for clear guidelines on allowing soldiers to express political views in the military. They said Mr. Hasan’s pro-jihad views were tolerated by officers concerned over charges of discrimination.

“I want to say very quickly we don’t know enough to say now, but there are very, very strong warning signs here that Mr. Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and, therefore, that this was a terrorist act,” Sen. Joseph Liberman, a Connecticut independent and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said.

Senator Lieberman said his committee would investigate the Hasan shooting, particularly the motive for the attack. He said a focus would be whether the U.S. Army ignored warning signs that Mr. Hasan was heading for an attack.

Mr. Hasan underwent an investigation in April on suspicion that he had adopted Al Qaida doctrine of holy war against the West. They said Mr. Hasan was suspected of trying to contact Al Qaida via the Internet.

“I am intending to begin a congressional investigation of my homeland security committee into what were the motives of Mr. Hasan in carrying out this brutal mass murder and to ask whether the Army missed warning signs that should have led them to essentially discharge him,” Mr. Lieberman said. “If Mr. Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance. He should have been gone.”

David Bedein can be reached at:


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.