Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Terrorism Analyst

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Fort Jackson: The Latest

This morning, I spoke to Army CID spokesman Christopher Gray and learned more details about a possible poisoning plot that I first reported here yesterday after CBN confirmed with Patrick Jones of Fort Jackson's Public Affairs Office and a reliable source with intimate knowledge of the investigation. Here is the latest on what we do know.

According to Gray, the Army is investigating allegations that a group of soldiers from the 09 Lima program (more on that later in this post) at Fort Jackson--which is based in South Carolina--had talked about poisoning food in the base's mess hall. The men were questioned about two months ago, around Christmas. Gray said that to protect the integrity of the investigation, he could not comment further. He stressed that the investigation is "open and continuing."

CBN News also spoke to a Department of Homeland Security official with knowledge of the investigation who wished to remain anonymous. The official confirmed that the investigation was ongoing and said that someone in the Lima 09 program overheard five Muslim colleagues talking about poisoning food at the base. The person then reported the men, who were brought in for questioning.

The DHS official stressed that after the terrorist massacre at Fort Hood, the Army is taking a zero tolerance policy towards any potential threatening statements and is now extremely sensitive about any allegations in that regard.

Terrorism expert Patrick Poole, an anti-terrorism consultant for the U.S. military and law enforcement,  told CBN News that "if this incident had become public in late December while the military was still working on the Ft. Hood report it would  have no doubt been catastrophic. What exactly happened at Ft. Jackson and why is this only coming out now? That's a question that Congress should be asking. "

"As noted in the Washington Times last month,"  Poole continued. "My colleagues and I have been warning of jihadist threats - both external and internal - for several years. The Pentagon has entirely ignored us and the Ft. Hood report released last month is evidence of the culture of willful blindness that wants to pretend this threat doesn't exist. Regardless of how the Ft. Jackson incident is resolved, it demonstrates that this threat is not going away."

I spoke today to Army spokesman Christopher Garver, who said the five men are not currently in custody. He was unclear whether the men who were questioned were U.S.citizens. And that brings us to another interesting wrinkle to this story.

According to my colleague, CBN Military Correspondent Chuck Holton, the 09 Lima program, which these men are a part of: specifically geared towards non-US citizens who bring to the table one very in-demand skill - the ability to speak fluent Arabic, Dari, Pashto, or some other needed language.  But these recruits also have a handicap - their grasp of the English language is not sufficient to allow them to make it through basic training.  So the 09 Lima program puts them through a sort of pre-basic basic, where they learn American culture, Army culture and work on their English language skills.  Once they finish the course, they are then able to enter normal basic training.  It' is a very small program, with something less than forty recruits in each class.

Holton continues:

Here's the interesting part.  According to Lt. Col. Frank Demith, these recruits are offered an "expedited citizenship program, once they serve one day of honorable active duty." 

Military service has always been a way for non-citizen US residents to obtain citizenship, and thousands have performed honorably in service to our country before it actually became their country. 

Though the Army must certainly have a thorough vetting process in place to try and avoid a scenario like that described by Erick Stakelbeck's recent blog, in the case of the 09 Lima program, the ability to receive "expedited American citizenship" must present a tempting opportunity for jihadi extremists with ulterior motives.

This is relevant not only because of the Fort Hood case, but because in the last month, there was an incident (see here) of an interpreter in Afghanistan murdering U.S. troops

Stay tuned to this blog for more details as they unfold.


Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 12:36 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Fort Jackson: The Latest

Quite frankly, I am more prone to think that senior officials at the Dept of Defense and Home Security took over and shut this whole thing down in order to protect Obama from further criticism and calls for a Congressional "No Confidence" vote. Recently, I learned of yet another Army "diversity" training session for officers. The session began with a reluctant training leader reading from a script. "Because of the history of the nemesis white male powerblock in the government and......" At that point in the presentation, the officers vocally interrupted and called into question the beginning premise. The reluctant trainer had no comment, and everyone decided to just leave. Some things have changed in the way the military does business. This type of paternalism and accomodation has gone too far. Mjr Hassan is a sterling example of just what is at risk. Congress must initiate an investigation OPEN To THE PRESS. Great report keep it up.
Left by b4uspeak on Feb 19, 2010 2:23 PM

# RE: Fort Jackson: The Latest

It's kind of disturbing to wonder how many similar incidents are taking place and hushed up. Great job on breaking this story.
Left by Lee62 on Feb 20, 2010 1:17 AM

# RE: Fort Jackson: The Latest

Dear Eric, I am telling you I am so shocked that this happened!I had heard this and kind of listened half way to what was going on.I listen to FOX News for general overall news other than my local news.And I started listen-
ing to CBN for the political, Biblical based news, since Obama got into office. I have never listened to them before.But I know that Pat Robertson is all about what is happening on the political scene and CNB reports it from a "Christian" perspective.The SCARY thing: if the Muslims get their own voice and report something about conservative, Christian based operation or event.Everyone in the reported Conservative and Christian organization will be a target for these un-Godly barbarians-WITH NO MERCY!BUT one thing they haven't considered.They are on the losing team.In the end WE WIN!VICTORY IN JESUS!So let the heathen rage.If you know Jesus and have been saved, don't sweat it.WE WIN!It will not matter who is in office.God put them there.HE can take them out!AMEN!
Left by Swain on Feb 21, 2010 11:49 AM

# RE: Fort Jackson: The Latest

What is the upshot of this story? That 5 Muslims were *arrested* or *under investigation* or *suspected of* or *overheard* threatening to poison food at Ft. Jackson? Is there really anything at all of substance to the allegations? If so, what, and what is the status of the investigation? Is it still "ongoing" as you first reported, or are we left now with only unsubstantiated allegations made more than 2 months ago and that's all?

I hope I'm wrong, and if I'm not I don't imagine you will moderate this post through, but this looks like absolutely nothing at this point. I am no defender of Muslims, that's for sure, but you have a responsibility to exercise some discretion before you jump on a story just to stir the pot against a group of them. Please update this story and provide some substance that would legitimize the anger and distrust you're trying to foment against them.
Left by BluesStringer on Feb 23, 2010 3:31 PM