Huge -- if true. Damaging and politically sensitive. Evidence of extensive infiltration of the U.S. Army by jihadists.
But the Army says it's not true. No one has been arrested. The National Security Council was not aware of any arrests, a spokesperson said.
After the Ft. Hood massacre, the Army increased its counterintelligence presence at Ft. Jackson, a training base, because it is home a large number of non-citizen Muslims recruited under the Army's "09-Lima" translation program.
A few months ago, special agents from the Army's Criminal Investigation Division opened an investigation after receiving a tip that some Muslims at the base had communicated with others overseas, and that a group of Muslim non-citizens had tried to poison other soldiers. That investigation is open -- but no evidence has been found to support the tips, according to the Army.
A routine and basic background check is conducted before any recruit is allowed into the program, but nothing rigorous. That's because the translators at Ft. Jackson don't handle active work. They're trained -- given the whole Army drill sergeant basic routine. Many become citizens after their training finishes. They're then embedded with U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There has been tension between the drill sergeants there and the recruits, because the drill sergeants fundamentally mistrusted them, and because they're Muslim and many aren't Americans.
Officially, the program is called the "O9L Translator/Interpreter Program." It was stood up by the Army in early 2004 in response to intelligence community complaints that Arabic-language translators were in short supply.
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