A class taught by the military to officers at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, came under fire when a report on Wired’s Danger Room blog last week exposed it for teaching soldiers to engage in a “total war” on Islam and taking a war on Islam “to the civilian population wherever necessary.” The full set of course materials, hundreds of documents and slide shows obtained by ThinkProgress, reveal just how deep Islamophobia ran through the military instruction. The material contained dozens of citations to the work of some of America’s best known anti-Muslim bigots.
Not all of the material in the course, however, was anti-Muslim. Materials from reputable sources such as the Brookings Institution and RAND corporation also appeared among the readings, and only some of the presenters to the class used blatantly Islamophobic material. (The public affairs officer of the Joint Forces Staff College didn’t respond to repeated inquiries by press time.)
But the “Islamophobia network,” discussed in the Center for American Progress’ “Fear, Inc.” report, played a prominent role in many of the 266 documents acquired by ThinkProgress. Islamophobic “misinformation experts” — as they’re defined in “Fear, Inc.” — cited in Army teaching materials included:
Robert Spencer — 34 mentions across 8 documents (his blog, JihadWatch.org, was cited 11 times across 7 documents)
Spencer is the co-founder of Stop Islamization of America and the director of JihadWatch.org. He has argued that “traditional Islam itself is not moderate or peaceful. Spencer is prominent pseudo-intellectual in the “counter jihad” blogging community who argues that Islam is inherently violent. He says “It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.”
Steven Emerson — 16 mentions across 4 documents
Emerson is the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and a former journalist at U.S. News & World Report and CNN. His greatest notoriety came from prematurely declaring that Oklahoma City bombing was committed by Muslims. The actual culprit was right-wing anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh. Emerson tells his followers that “Nearly all of the Islamic organizations in the United States that define themselves as religiously or culturally Muslim in character have, today, been totally captured or dominated by radical fundamentalist elements.”
Center for Security Policy (CSP) — 60 mentions across 3 documents
David Yerushalmi — 9 mentions across 3 documents
Yerushalmi is general counsel for CSP, a co-author of “Shariah: The Threat to America” and the founder of Society of Americans for National Existence. The Anti-Defamation League concluded that he has a “record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.”
Daniel Pipes — 50 mentions across 10 documents (his organization, Middle East Forum, was cited 39 times across 10 documents)
Pipes, the director of Middle East Forum, is increasingly strident about the supposed threat posed by Islam and Muslims in America. He argues, “All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
Finally, right-wing news publications were frequently cited in the training materials acquired by ThinkProgress. The Washington Times was cited 76 times across 16 documents; The National Review 130 times across 6 documents and Fox News 130 times across six documents.
Instructors’ reliance on far-right thinktanks and experts adds to the increasingly disturbing portrait of counter-terrorism instruction at the Joint Forces Staff College, potraying the West as at war with Islam and Muslims. The sheer frequency of citations in the course materials raises questions that hopefully will be answered by an investigation launched at the behest of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who admirably said the questionable course material was “totally objectionable, against our values, and it wasn’t academically sound.”