Ace Washington Times Pentagon reporter Bill Gertz reports that two casualties of the change in administration will be Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and his special assistant Hesham Islam.
Islam, previously described by England as "my interlocutor" on Islamic issues and outreach, drew scrutiny in January "after a dispute with Joint Staff analyst Stephen Coughlin in the fall of 2007 over the nature of Islamist extremism," Gertz reports. "Mr. Islam disagreed with Mr. Coughlin, a specialist on Islamic law and its ties to extremism, and later referred to him as a ‘Christian zealot with a pen.'"
Coughlin then was forced out after being told his contract would not be renewed. Officials said the move was unrelated to Islam's criticism.
Writer Claudia Rosett dug in to Islam's posted biography and found a number of discrepancies. Among them, Islam told an interviewer that a film depicting his life story would begin with "huddling in terror as Israeli bombs came raining down, demolishing much of the building around him and his family" in Cairo. But, Rosett noted, Israel never bombed Cairo. She also found no records to support Islam's claim that he spent three days floating in the Arabian Sea after an Iranian torpedo sunk a cargo ship he was on.
We reported that Islam, serving as an outreach liaison for England, helped schedule meetings for the deputy secretary with a member of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood and a Lebanese ambassador considered a proxy for Syria. U.S. policy at the time was to freeze out both entities.