“[The United States is] at war with Islam and you are a Muslim.” These shocking and inflammatory words were not uttered by a radical Al Qaeda ideologue such as Ayman al-Zawahiri but by an officer of the US Army Criminal Investigation Division, addressing honorable men eager to serve their adopted homeland. These unfounded accusations and the subsequent witch-hunt were prominently featured by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, an international television network known for its opposition to America’s foundational principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. After having endured 45 days of detention, the Muslim soldiers were abruptly released without explanation (unsurprisingly, the CBN failed to report on the unproven nature of the allegations once the soldiers were released). However, the charges had already stuck: unable to find a job, pass background checks, or even win the scantest form of redress from the Army, Khalid Lyaacoubi and Yassine Bahammou reached out to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Springing into action immediately, MRFF mobilized all resources at our disposal to get their horrific experience into the national and international spotlight so that Khalid and Yassine’s ordeal would be known. Due to MRFF’s unflagging persistence, the resulting investigation by both the New York Times and ABC News’ flagship program Nightline revealed that the 45 days’ detention was the tip of the iceberg, with disruptive effects resulting from this massive human rights violation continuing to erect huge barriers in the lives of these aspiring citizen-patriots whose only goal was to serve the United States of America.