Here is a useful summary of Louay Safi's checkered past and dubious associations, despite which he was employed as a military subcontractor to lecture on Islam. This report does not mention that, even after the Ft. Hood shootings, Safi was involved in troops' training, and was allowed to meet with victims' families. Those occurrences, of course, were part of the broader knee-jerk reaction in the aftermath of the attack to defend even more vigorously the establishment's dogma that Islam has nothing to do the steady stream of attacks and attempted attacks in Islam's name.
A clear pattern is observable in the military and broader governmental approach to anything related to Islam, and it involves an obsession with image over substance (lest appearances offend), a related fixation with "outreach" and "engagement" for their own sake, and an alarmingly unquestioning dependence on middlemen to feed them soothing interpretations of Islam. Never mind the agendas and affiliations of said middlemen, such as Safi, as long as those in charge hear what they want to hear.
And never mind that the non-engagement with reality consequently costs lives at home and abroad.
"U.S. torn over whether some Islamists offer insight or pose threat," by Brooks Egerton for the Dallas Morning News, February 7:
After the worst military base massacre in U.S. history, officials acknowledged that they failed to "connect the dots" - the shooter had been corresponding with an imam tied to al-Qaeda and had condemned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war against Islam.
But Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan wasn't the only one working on a Texas Army base the day of the shooting who had links to radical Islamists.
At Fort Bliss, an experienced military trainer was teaching soldiers about his Muslim faith. He, too, had denounced government counterterrorism efforts, and public records show he and some of his closest associates had ties to terrorism suspects.
But when The Dallas Morning News first inquired about the instructor, Louay Safi, military officials praised him. Only later did they say that Safi had been suspended from working on military bases pending a continuing criminal inquiry.
The Safi affair reveals the deep divisions within the U.S. government over how to combat terrorism and over what constitutes moderate Islam.
Some believe insight into Islamist thinking can be gained only by engaging a wide range of people in North America's close-knit Muslim community, where leaders may well have ties to extremists - ties that do not necessarily signal alliances or support. Others argue that engagement should be limited or shunned to avoid legitimizing radicals or embarrassing the government.
Safi is a senior official of the Islamic Society of North America, the country's largest Muslim organization. ISNA has been consulted for years by Washington and is described as a partner in the fight against terrorism. In addition to serving as ISNA's communications director, Safi runs its program certifying Muslim chaplains for work in the U.S. military and prison system. He publicly denounces terrorism and advocates peace.
How about jihad?
Safi was also named by government prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in one terrorism case in 2005. His last two employers were implicated in other government terrorism investigations while he worked for them. He was never charged, nor included among the targets of those investigations.
But Safi has called the widespread raids on Muslim organizations after 9/11 "a campaign against Islam" - a term that 9/11 Commission director Philip Zelikow says is part of "the jihadi narrative."
Safi has also complained that Muslims are treated differently from Christians and Jews when they do wrong. They are unfairly identified by and questioned about their religion, he says, treatment that can lead to isolation and aggression.
"The extremist ideology responsible for violent outbursts is often rooted in the systematic demonization of marginalized groups," Safi said in an Internet posting after the Fort Hood shooting. [...]
Safi, a 54-year-old native of Syria, is a military subcontractor who has lectured on Islam for the Army since 2005. His relationship with the Pentagon began a year earlier, when he became ISNA's leadership development director, providing Muslim chaplains the religious endorsement they need to work in the military and prison system.
He is one of seven lecturers in the Army's Islamic education program, overseen by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Much of the work is contracted out to Huntsville, Ala.-based Camber Corp., the privately held firm that hired Safi.
The training on Islam is part of a broader military educational program for which Camber is paid about $17.7 million annually, Navy Commander Brenda Malone said. Camber spokeswoman Rivka Tadjer declined to comment, citing instruction from the military.
One lecturer not affiliated with Camber who has worked alongside Safi is Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and a staunch ally of Israel.
Safi's presentations stick to religious theory and do little to prepare deploying soldiers for how extremists exploit Islam, said Rubin, an Iran expert who also lectures at the naval school. "There's an element of excusing rather than explaining," Rubin told The News....