JANUARY 09, 2008
The U.S. government’s top specialist on Islamic extremism has been fired under pressure from pro-Muslim officials who accused him of being too hard on terrorists and referred to him as a Christian zealot with a pen.
As the Pentagon’s most important figure in analyzing the nature of extremism, Stephen Coughlin has for years helped the U.S. government prepare ideological war against it. A lawyer by training and a reserve Military Intelligence Officer, Coughlin’s experience with Sharia, the Islamic system of laws, dates back a decade.
But pro-Muslim officials at the Department of Defense have long accused Coughlin of being too hard on Islam. The clash peaked recently between Coughlin and a close aide of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. The aide, Hasham Islam, leads the Defense Department’s outreach efforts to Muslim groups and he has tried to sway Coughlin to soften up on Islam and the Islamic law elements that promote extremism.
When Coughlin evidently refused, the Pentagon fired him from his position on the military’s Joint Staff. His departure will undoubtedly contribute further to the apparent lack of knowledge among U.S. military leaders regarding Islam, jihad in Islam and even terrorism. This despite the fact that Islamic doctrine clearly played a role in the September 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation.
One former Army Intelligence officer, well-versed on Coughlin’s important work, says the senseless firing proves that something nefarious is going on at the Pentagon since it amounts to shooting the messenger who had crafted a telling message about the threat of political Islam.
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