The number of Islamic cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, has increased dramatically in the past year; however, a prominent foreign policy expert and graduate of West Point says America’s oldest military academy needs to be very careful when considering Muslim applicants who seek admission to the school.
Recently, the U.S. Military Academy announced that it has opened its first space dedicated to Muslims – a worship hall, complete with a pulpit facing Mecca. In 2001, there were only two Muslim cadets at West Point; but this year there are 32, which is ten more than were enrolled last year.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis feels West Point officials should exercise caution when considering Muslim applicants who might embrace jihad. “That’s where your leadership have to make the determination as to who to allow into the military academy,” he says.
Maginnis thinks it would also be wise for academy officials to consider the implications of creating a worship space for followers of Islam on the military leadership training school’s campus. He says here, again, West Point’s leadership needs to think about “whether or not the sanctioning of a religious service of that nature would serve the overall best interest” of America and the U.S. military.
Muslim cadets at West Point might not pose a substantial risk, the military veteran observes, “as long as they’re being moderate in their approach and, some people would argue, not faithful to the tenets of Islam.” In that case, he says, “probably it’s all right. Just like President Bush says, we want to work with the moderates, but it’s the radicals that we’re fighting.”
On the other hand, Maginnis points out, “if you believe in the inerrancy of the Koran and that you embrace jihad in a militaristic fashion, and you believe in the coming Caliphate – the domination of Islam across the world – and your personal obligation [to it] – that, in fact, might be contradictory to the best interests of the United States.”
In any event, the Pentagon advisor and foreign policy expert doubts the U.S. Military Academy would knowingly allow a jihadist or an extreme Islamist to enroll. “I would imagine they would sort out anyone that is truly of a radical belief structure,” he says.
Still, Maginnis questions the motives of West Point leadership in accommodating Muslim students, such as with the new worship hall. He suspects the academy has taken this measure and others in an effort to avoid being labeled “anti-Islam.”