Saudi role in radicalizing US soldiers

From the Middle East Strategy at Harvard site (MESH) comes this thought provoking piece by Gal Luft about how the Saudis converted American servicemen to Islam during the Gulf War and the notion that those seeds have born fruit with the rampage by Nidal Hasan.

The genesis of radical Islamic thinking within the military was in the 1990-91 Gulf War, when nearly half a million soldiers and marines were deployed in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait and defend the oil kingdom from Saddam Hussein's aggression. While the Saudis were adamantly opposed to any expression of religious practice by their guests, including a ban on Christmas carols, bible classes and Christian and Jewish prayers, they embarked on a well-orchestrated and generously funded effort sponsored by the Saudi government to convert as many American military members as possible to Islam.

Prince Khaled Bin Sultan, Commander of the Saudi forces, bragged that more than 2,000 American soldiers converted and became "messengers" in the military for Islam.

What was the result of this proselytizing?

Nearly two decades have passed since the Saudi conversion campaign, and most of the converts may no longer be in uniforms. But the seeds sown during the Gulf War have germinated, creating scores of radicalized Americans who are a threat to their comrades in uniforms as well as to their civilian communities.

Fort Hood's Hasan yelled "Allahu Akbar"-Arabic for "God is Great"-just before the shooting. As Camp Pennsylvania's killer Akbar was being led away after the incident, fellow soldiers heard him shout: "You guys are coming into our countries and you're going to rape our women and kill our children." Allahu Akbar, "you guys," "our countries"-strong words which tell us that it is time to investigate what exactly happened back then in the desert and assess how serious and deep-rooted the damage is.

It remains to be seen whether the military has the political will to risk the wrath of Congress and rights groups, and study the army's "Muslim problem" with an open, and just mind.

They owe as much to the dead at Fort Hood.

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