Security expert Shannon Rossmiller, who helped conduct a study that would recognize the signs of extremism amongst US troops, says the Department of Defense failed to use it and thus may have contributed to the loss at Fort Hood.
There is also concern that the US has not learned as much as it could have from Europe and other countries who have thoroughly studied radicalization processes.
Muslim and Sikh recruits training in the British Army say their faith is not an issue, but at times it can present them with a few dilemmas. “If I was out in Afghanistan in uniform I would be shot at right away, as the Taliban would not know who I was or my Muslim background,” says Akhtar Hussain. “So for me, it’s who shoots first.”
The 19-year-old British Muslim from Brighton joined the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment seven weeks ago and is currently undergoing a 26-week training program at Vimy Barracks in Catterick. He says his faith does not really affect his army training, and the attitude to British Muslims at the barracks is positive. “They cater for my needs and if I want to pray or observe Ramadan I can,” says Private Hussain. Halal food is also provided for.
But when Pte. Hussain finishes training, he might be posted on a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan – and he is aware British Muslims joining the army has become a contentious issue. “Obviously coming from my background, it plays on my mind. I may end up in this situation but I don’t think religion comes into it, it’s more about terrorism.”
American Muslim soldiers who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan find themselves caught between two worlds. On one hand they want to serve their nation, and on another they are criticized for fighting what fellow Muslims perceive as an unjust war against Muslims. One Christian group asserts they should be prohibited from serving.
But soldiers in this article reject extremism from any side. “We love this country,” said Shelton Hasan, 54, of Detroit, an Army veteran, “and want to protect it like anyone else.”
A shortage of citizens willing to enlist in the US military, and issues with recruitment and retaining strategies could have contributed to the incident at Fort Hood.
The Iranian representative in Britain, Abdolhossein Moezi, has told Muslim servicemen and women to quit the Armed Forces, saying that their involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is forbidden by Islam. He said that it was wrong for followers of Islam to serve in the Armed Forces, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq where Muslims were being killed.
The cleric, personally appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be his special envoy to the UK, also urged Muslims to defeat the opposition to the Iranian regime and keep the 30-year-old Islamic Republic alive. He condemned 9/11, 7/7 as well as the Fort Hood incident, but accused the forces of “Zionist imperialism” of using the atrocities to smear Islam and its followers.
Furthermore Moezi stated that his role in Britain was to provide spiritual advice to all Muslims, irrespective of their sectarian backgrounds, and encourage them to become more involved in British society through education and employment.
Ahead of Remembrance Sunday on November 8, commemorating the end of the First World War, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) published a special report highlighting the long-standing and continued support for the Armed Forces. “Remembering the Brave: The Muslim Contribution to Britain’s Armed Forces” outlines how Muslims have made a historic contribution to the defense of the nation. The document also covers the current contribution of British Muslims to the UK military.
Highlighting past polling data, the document suggests that British Muslims tend to take the sophisticated enough stand to support our troops while dissenting from the government’s decision to send those troops to controversial conflicts. An ICM-run survey in June of 500 British Muslims over the age of 16, found that 78 percent said they opposed Taliban attacks against UK and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan and three-quarters of those surveyed said it was wrong for the West to intervene militarily in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In this publication, the MCB acknowledges that the operations which the Armed Forces are engaged in today are deeply controversial. But that is not simply a concern amongst Muslims; it is shared by other British people also.