This story just reeks of propaganda and a sneaky agenda. The article mentions that these consultants were paid in part from private donations, and it would be interesting to know just who that is, because I have a feeling that would make clear the agenda working here.
I just hate how fundamentally dishonest this is with the people who will likely be risking their lives in the Middle East in the near future. I know Karl Rove tried to make it an insult that liberals wanted to "understand the terrorists", but personally, I find trying to lie to these students and make it harder for them to understand far more insulting.
NY Times: (reg. req'd)
The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.[..]
The three were invited because “they offered a unique perspective from inside terrorism,” Major Ashworth said. The conference is to result in a report on methods to combat terrorism that will be sent to the Pentagon, members of Congress and other influential officials, he added.
Members of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group suing the federal government to combat what it calls creeping evangelism in the armed forces, said it was typical of the Air Force Academy to invite born-again Christians to address cadets on terrorism rather than experts who could teach students about the Middle East.
“This stuff going on at the academy today is part of the endemic evangelical infiltration that continues,” said David Antoon, a 1970 academy graduate and a foundation member.
The three men were invited to talk about being recruited and trained as terrorists, not religion, although one of them, Zak Anani, did tell students that converting to Christianity from Islam saved his life, said John Van Winkle, another spokesman for the academy.
Muslim organizations objected to the fact that no other perspective about Islam was offered, saying that the three speakers — Mr. Anani, Kamal Saleem and Walid Shoebat — habitually paint Muslims as inherently violent. All were born in the Middle East but Mr. Saleem and Mr. Shoebat are now American citizens, while Mr. Anani has Canadian citizenship.↓ Story continues below ↓
“Their entire world view is based on the idea that Islam is evil,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on Islamic American Relations. “We want to provide a balancing perspective to their hate speech.”
Academic professors and others who have heard the three men speak in the United States and Canada said some of their stories border on the fantastic, like Mr. Saleem’s account of how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights. No such incidents have been reported, the academic experts said. They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.