Some Pentagon and military leaders, along with lots of working-level officials, are quietly rallying to support ousted Joint Staff counterterrorism analyst Stephen Coughlin.
Pentagon officials said a number of generals and admirals who share Mr. Coughlin’s well-reasoned assessment of the Islamic law underpinnings of Islamist terror are voicing support for the lawyer and former military intelligence official.
Mr. Coughlin was fired as a Joint Staff contractor after his confrontation with Hasham Islam, a special assistant to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, was reported here last month.
Mr. Islam, a Muslim, referred to Mr. Coughlin as a “Christian zealot with a pen” during the meeting several weeks ago, a slur rejected by Mr. Coughlin’s supporters.
Critics of Mr. Coughlin are spreading word “” falsely “” that he is being let go because he talked out of school to the press. One official suggested the action was due to budget cuts.
But defense and military officials supportive of Mr. Coughlin said the real reason is that critics, like Mr. Islam. want him sidelined because they oppose his hard-to-refute views on the relationship between Islamic law and Islamist jihad doctrine. Those views have triggered a harsh debate challenging the widespread and politically correct view of Islam as a religion of peace hijacked by extremists.
“Steve Coughlin is the most knowledgeable person in the U.S. government on Islamic law,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney. “The secretary of defense should ensure that he stays at DOD.”