Update: SPC Valdovinos has apparently now asked Fort Carson for a copy of the report, and, as is glaringly obvious and noted below, was told to file a FOIA. She’s complained no one told her she’d need to do that. You know who should have told her? Her supposed legal representation, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. His incompetence is staggering.
Remember US Army SGT Cesilia Valdovinos? Back in April she was Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s golden ticket, with her story of Islamophobic persecution at the hands of the US Army garnering him international attention. Multiple headlines portended an upcoming lawsuit against the US military for its treatment of the Muslim Soldier.
SGT Valdovinos was promptly forgotten, including, it seems, by Mikey Weinstein.
The Colorado Springs Gazette, on the other hand, stayed on the story and obtained a copy of the local investigation directed by the Brigade Commander, Col David Zinn. The investigator, Capt Jeremey Kinder, included
more than a dozen interviews in assembling a 67-page report. It cleared the Army of the discrimination claims but also showed the service has plenty of learning to do.
“I find that better communication with all parties involved would have de-escalated the situation and recommend that future inspections of a personal nature be conducted in complete privacy…”
The report also noted that SGT — now SPC, following an unrelated demotion — Valdovinos Read more
As has now been widely reported, US Army SPC Cesilia Valdovinos — who converted to Islam in March 2016 — has claimed discrimination over her wear of the hijab, for which she was granted a religious accommodation just last summer. According to Valdovinos, a senior enlisted leader required her to remove her hijab to prove her hair was being correctly worn underneath it. (While the accommodation was granted, she is still required to maintain certain standards, even under the hijab.) The reason for the “inspection” was the belief her hair was not properly maintained while under her hijab, as was required. When she removed the hijab, her hair was, indeed, down — though Valdovinos says it was because it was held up by the hijab itself. Valdovinos apparently found this exchange inappropriate and filed an EO complaint.
There are aspects to this story on both sides that Read more
The Stars and Stripes ran an article entitled “Some Muslim servicemembers struggle to balance faith and service,” though the article cited only a single former servicemember, former Army SSgt Mohammad A. Hasan. After 9 years of service, with his Islamic faith a non-issue, he said a deployment to Iraq set him apart from his peers:
With a dark complexion and Muslim name, the Bangladesh-born soldier’s loyalty was at times questioned by suspicious troops during his deployment in Iraq, he said.
The article continues to use the plural with reference to “struggling” Muslim Soldiers, though it fails to mention any others. In fact, it quotes both former Navy Read more
US Army PFC Naser Abdo, arrested last week on charges he was planning to blow up a restaurant and kill Soldiers near Fort Hood, Texas, was defiant at his court appearance.
Abdo…refused to stand up during Friday’s hearing when everyone in the court was asked to rise for the judge.
As he was being led out of the courtroom, he yelled out “Iraq 2006” and the name of the 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was raped and murdered in 2006 by a U.S. soldier. He then shouted: “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009.”
Organizations that had previously supported Abdo in his objector application have now disavowed him:
“If any of these allegations are true, any sort of violence toward anyone goes completely against what a conscientious objector believes,” said Jose Vasquez, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Another group, Read more
Private First Class Naser Abdo has reportedly been arrested by Texas police near Fort Hood, Texas. Abdo wasn’t assigned to Fort Hood; he was assigned to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. The Army said Abdo was AWOL from Fort Campbell.
Local police indicated they had interrupted a “terror plot” in their arrest of PFC Abdo. He was reportedly found with guns, gunpowder, and the makings of a backpack bomb. The arrest was made possible by a tip from local gundealer Guns Galore. Clerk Greg Ebert said the staff of the store was concerned because Abdo was purchasing large quantities of gunpowder — while asking questions about how to use it. Guns Galore is reportedly the same store where Maj Nidal Malik Hasan purchased his firearm.
According to AP reports, Abdo has admitted to planning an attack at Read more
SPC Zachari Klawonn, who has previously voiced vague complaints of mistreatment in the military because of his Islamic faith, recently gave an interview to the Arabic language channel of al Jazeera. The segment was reportedly titled “The Right In America Declared War On Islam Inside and Outside America.” In the interview, Klawonn has nothing positive to say about the US military — even as he wore the uniform on-screen:
Interviewer: …How can you be talking about suffering when the military establishment claims that it is the most open toward minorities toward women, and toward all those who suffer in society in general?
Zachari Klawonn: …The reality is that there is a sense of Islamophobia and there is a big misunderstanding of the Islamic faith and that contributes to people’s negative notions coming into the military. Also the training we get and the information we are subject to constitutes propaganda against Islam.
He also demurred, again, when asked to specify how he had been mistreated:
Interviewer: …Can you give us some examples of the harassment you are talking about, which you experienced personally?
Zachari Klawonn: Sure, I received numerous disrespectful comments and even harassment to my personal property from an array of soldiers, even in some instances from the command itself.
Interestingly, according to CNSNews, Klawonn “informed” his commander Read more
Updated with video, see below.
A few days ago it was Michael Weinstein’s lawyer’s turn to stick his foot in the mouth of the MRFF. Randal Mathis (of Mathis and Donheiser) is reportedly representing Specialist Zachari Klawonn in an as-yet undefined legal fashion against the Army. (Mathis is currently suing the CGFC and Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt on behalf of Weinstein.) Read more
The Washington Post has an interesting article on a Muslim American Soldier who is engaged in “battles on friendly ground.” The article is essentially a superficial re-telling of US Army Spc Zachari Klawonn’s story, even to the point of being dismissive toward two other Muslim Soldiers (Capt. Rhana Kurdi and Sgt. Fahad Kamal) who gave statements supportive of the Army with regard to their faith.
According to the article, Klawonn has filed “complaint after complaint with his commanders.” (It is unclear if this is inclusive of the “20 complaints” he has filed with the equal opportunity office.) He believes he has mild depression and has seen a psychologist a half dozen times since joining the Army. When he enlisted, he was “grilled” by those at his mosque who wanted to know how he could kill Muslims, which was “forbidden.”
Klawonn was allegedly told by superiors that he needed to be careful, because he fit the same profile as Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan–a Muslim soldier disgruntled with the Army, complete with a psychological history and close associates who seem to believe his military service is incompatible with Islam. While Klawonn may have been understandably Read more