Defense & National Security

Was Fragging in Kuwait Result of Islamist Extremism?

The 101st Airborne says that a magistrate has determined it is “probable” that Sgt. Asan Akbar committed a March 23 “fragging” attack on his superiors at a U.S. Army encampment in Kuwait. Akbar is accused of shooting two servicemen and throwing grenades into three tents housing high-ranking officers and non-commissioned officers.

Two Americans were killed in the attack and thirteen more were wounded. The Army is now holding Akbar in Mannheim, Germany, but has not charged him.

Akbar is a convert to Islam, raising the question of whether his alleged killing of U.S. servicemen was a religiously motivated act of terrorism.

The Los Angeles Times reported: “Soldiers recalled hearing the suspect say as he was being led away by armed soldiers: ‘You guys are coming into our countries and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children.’”

NBC reported that two high-ranking U.S. Army sources had said Akbar “was opposed to the killing of Muslims and opposed to the war in Iraq.”

The 101st Airborne said Akbar had been reprimanded recently for insubordination. Immediately after the attack, Army spokesman Max Blumenfeld said the motive “most likely was resentment.” He did not specify the cause of the alleged resentment.

On March 26, spokesmen for the 101st and for the Army’s criminal division said Akbar’s motives were still unknown.

William Bilal, Akbar’s former stepfather, told ABC’s affiliate in Baton Rouge, La.: “Asan was pushed to this. We’ve got that clear. Everybody’s got a breaking point.” On ABC’s “Good Morning America” March 25, Bilal said: “And the problem is, the stereotyping and the discrimination, I can’t say exactly, directly, if that was Asan’s case.” Bilal said his stepson “spoke about how hard it was for a black man to make the rank in the military.”

Army statistics show that making sergeant after five years in the Army is typical. Akbar, a sergeant, enlisted in 1998.

The Associated Press reported that Akbar’s mother said: “He said, Mama, when I get over there I have the feeling they are going to arrest me just because of the name that I have carried.”

The leader of Akbar’s mosque in Los Angeles said Akbar did not learn treason from him. “We don’t tell them not to join the Army because they might run into a problem with another Muslim country,” Abdul Karim Hasan told ABC. “That’s just the way it is. That’s what armed forces are trained to do, they’re trained to, to fight.”

The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy (CSP) believes that the military’s Muslim chaplains could be negatively influencing Muslim troops. “One of the Center for Security Policy’s big concerns is how extremists and those who front for them have penetrated the U.S. military,” said a CSP briefing paper. CSP said that nine of the 14 Muslim chaplains in the U.S. armed forces as of last June had received training at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS), which is supported by Saudi Arabia. CSP President Frank Gaffney said that GSISS adheres to the Wahhabist version of Sunni Islam. “What our research indicates is you don’t pass through Wahhabist organizations without embracing or being certified by these organizations as a practitioner of the faith, the Wahhabist sect of the faith, the jihadist slant on the faith,” he said. GSISS President Dr. Taha al-Alwani did not respond to phone calls.


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