Islam expert not forced out, congresswoman says

A Pentagon anti-terrorism specialist was not ousted because his superiors thought he was too critical of Islam, a congresswoman who investigated the matter said Tuesday. Stephen Coughlin, an expert on Islamic law for the Department of Defense, was not pushed out of his job because he offended Muslim employees of the Pentagon, as many had suspected, said Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), co-chair of the bipartisan House Anti-Terrorism Caucus.

Much of the controversy surrounding Coughlin – an attorney, former Army intelligence officer, and major in the Army Reserves – emerged from his 333-page thesis, “To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad.” The report was accepted last year by the National Defense Intelligence College. The report describes an Islamic culture that teaches violence from an early age.

Though Myrick doesn’t believe there was political chicanery involved, she does think the Pentagon should have paid more attention to Coughlin’s thesis. “He states we have not listened to our enemies – Osama Bin Laden and his ilk – that they are acting in accordance with Islam,” she said.

She added that the government must be aware of radical jihadists trying to infiltrate American organizations. “I know that some people will refuse to admit there is a subversive movement going on here, but let me remind you that we have underestimated the will and capability of our enemy for more than 30 years,” Myrick said. “They are patient and determined to achieve their radical agenda.”, 6 February 2008