About Lieutenant General William G. "Jerry" Boykin (Ret.)
He served two years as a commander of Delta and participated in some of its most high-profile missions, including the Iran hostage crisis in 1980 and the “Black Hawk Down” firefight in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. That same year, Boykin consulted then-Attorney General Janet Reno on the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. In 2003, President Bush publicly distanced himself from Boykin when it was revealed that he had made anti-Islamic statements and cast the “War on Terror” as a religious conflict while giving speeches at churches in full dress uniform, a violation of regulations. Since his retirement from the military in 2007, Boykin has involved himself fully as a Christian far-right activist and anti-Muslim propagandist. He is currently executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In his own words:
“Well, if you understand anything about Islam, there are subliminal messages, and [Obama’s] message, really, I believe, was …‘I understand you and I support you.’”
—During a break at the anti-Islamic National Security Action Summit, about President Obama’s first appearance in Cairo, March 6, 2014
“Our government is so infiltrated and the Muslim Brotherhood has so much influence in this country, it is incredible.”
–WND Radio America, Sept. 21, 2012
“One of the most disgusting things I hear is for people to call Hitler the extreme right. The absolute opposite was true. It was the National Socialist Party. He was an extraordinarily off the scale leftist. But many Jews in America, for example, can’t identify with the Republican Party because they’re called the party of the right, and they equate that to Hitler when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.”
–April 2011 video for Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative
“The continent of Europe is dark, it is hopelessly lost and it’s going to get worse. Every expert will tell you that by the middle of this century the continent of Europe will be an Islamic continent, and they can’t reverse it, they can’t stop it. It is because they took Jesus out of their societies and it’s been replaced by darkness.”
–Address to Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, May 2012
“So we love the Muslim people but we have to be very careful to understand that Islam — in a pure sense and an authoritative sense — Islam is evil. Islam is an evil concept because it does call for innocent blood. It calls for the subjugation of women, it calls for brutality that is alien to us as Christians. So we do love the Muslim people, but the Bible also speaks of a time when men will call good evil and evil good, and we have to be sure that we are in fact calling Islam what it is, and in reality, it’s evil.”
–Speaking with Rick Joyner and self-proclaimed ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem, Feb. 27, 2012
“We are at war. And I think that until Americans are willing to find out what Islam is and to find out the truth about what the Muslim Brotherhood is doing in our country, we’re going to continue to live in darkness.”
– 2011, speaking to James Dobson on his radio program
“There is a cabal, a group of very nefarious people, who very much want to create a global government. In order to create a global government, you essentially have to make everybody the same, so there’s not a superpower. Inside America, the foundations of that are the billions of dollars of a guy named George Soros, who has been, really for the last four or five decades, working very hard to bring us to a point where he can make us — lead us into a Marxist government. But there is an entity within the Council of Foreign Relations that is very much focused on global governments — one world government.”
—Answering questions at the Oak Initiative Summit, 2011
“[Islam] should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with sharia law.”
—Video for Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative, 2010
William G. “Jerry” Boykin was born in North Carolina, where he worked on his grandparents’ tobacco farm. According to his memoir, Never Surrender, his father was a World War II veteran who was wounded at Normandy. Boykin’s own long and decorated military career began after he graduated from Virginia Tech (which he attended on a football scholarship) in the last weeks of 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He was sworn in as a soldier in the United States Army on Dec. 26, 1970, and the next year made the cut as an officer in the elite 1st Ranger Battalion. In 1972, he was sent to Vietnam, but his combat tour ended after three months with the ceasefire.
In 1978, as a young captain, Boykin was asked to “volunteer” for a new, secret unit being formed called Delta Force. But first he would have to undergo a rigorous 30-day training and screening process for what would come to be considered the United States’ toughest counter-terrorism and hostage rescue squad. Lt. Col. L.H. “Bucky” Burress helped make Delta Force selections, and he was not convinced that Boykin would physically make the grade because of bad knees. Boykin also claimed in his memoir that a psychologist at Fort Bragg wanted to exclude him from Delta Force because “you rely too much on your faith and not enough on yourself.” But Boykin persevered, and joined Delta Force at age 29. Burress would write at the time that Boykin was a “Christian gentleman of the highest order.” Boykin believed that God had spoken to him and told him to join Delta Force.
By 1980, Boykin was the Delta Force operations officer during the Iranian hostage rescue attempt, Delta Force’s inaugural mission and a catastrophic failure. The mission was aborted after a crash in the Iranian desert killed eight American soldiers. In 1983, Major Boykin was tapped for Operation Urgent Fury in the Caribbean island of Grenada, but only because “he begged” to go on the combat assault, according to Burress. Boykin was mostly riding a desk as an operations officer by then and Burress later told the Washington Post that “[i]t was probably a mistake” that he put Boykin on the mission, though he said that “a soldier who wants to get stuck in combat is a good soldier.” On that mission, a bullet that hit the radio Boykin was operating also went through his armpit and out his shoulder. Boykin regained use of his arm later because, he claimed, God had healed him.
He continued to be selected for various missions, including gathering intelligence on troop buildups in North Korea. He spent 1990-1991 at the Army War College and 1992-1993 hunting Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. By then, Boykin was a colonel. In 1993, he and Gen. Peter Schoomaker (one of Boykin’s closest friends) advised then-Attorney General Janet Reno during the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. He would also serve as the CIA’s Deputy Director of Special Activities and would be promoted to brigadier general.
Also in 1993, Boykin was embroiled in Mogadishu, an operation in Somalia against self-proclaimed president Mohamed Farrah Aidid. What was originally intended as a quick, in-and-out raid turned into an overnight standoff after two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and the mission shifted to a desperate and bloody attempt to extract the downed American crewmen from the city. Hundreds of Somali militiamen were killed in the firefight. Out of an air and ground assault force of about 150 American troops, 18 were killed and 84 wounded. Boykin was hit by shrapnel in his legs and feet two days later, when a mortar round landed in the airfield, killing a Delta Force sergeant and critically wounding the unit’s surgeon. In person and in print, Boykin claims to have prayed over the dying surgeon, and now that surgeon is alive and practicing medicine in the Shenandoah Valley.
Following Mogadishu, the Senate Armed Services Committee looked into tactical and policy decisions that might have contributed to the American casualties. Boykin claimed that he saw a copy of an anonymous letter circulating through the Pentagon that blamed his alleged incompetence for the deaths of the servicemen. Committee investigators interviewed Boykin, but Maj. Gen. William Garrison took full responsibility for the battle’s outcome, thus removing Boykin from further inquiries.
Boykin earned his third star in the summer of 2003, which made him a lieutenant general, and he was appointed to undersecretary of defense of intelligence in the Bush administration. There, he headed a new office that was focused on hunting down Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other “high-value targets.” It was during his tenure in the Bush administration that his religiosity almost cost him his career.
In 2003, he came under fire for remarks he made at several churches where he appeared in full dress uniform. During those presentations, Boykin referred to the United States as a “Christian nation” joined in “spiritual battle” against Satan, couching Islam as the enemy and casting the war on terror in religious terms, which, detractors noted, could put troops in danger. He told a religious group in Oregon that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian.”
In another speech in which he discussed Mogadishu, he said of a captured Somali warlord that, “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” In photos Boykin had taken from a helicopter, flying over Mogadishu, he said strange marks appeared on the film and he claimed that the photos demonstrated that “a demonic spirit” possessed the city. In yet another of his appearances, he said that the enemy in the antiterrorism fight was Satan, and that God had put Bush in the White House.
Following an outcry about his comments, President Bush publicly distanced himself from Boykin and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) and the committee’s senior Democrat, Carl Levin (Mich.), called for an inquiry and for Boykin to step down while the inquiry was under way.
But then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld kept him at his post, although the Defense Department investigated his remarks and determined that Boykin had violated three internal regulations: He had failed to obtain clearance for his remarks, failed to clarify that his remarks were personal, and failed to report reimbursement of travel expenses from participating religious groups. The investigation also determined that Boykin had spoken at 23 religiously oriented events (mostly Baptist and Pentecostal) since 2002, and that he wore his uniform at all but two.
The investigation and its findings amounted to a slap on the wrist.
Boykin’s religiosity has created problems for him professionally and personally over the years, including a divorce from his first wife after Mogadishu, who, he said, called him a “religious fanatic” as she was leaving him.
Boykin retired from active military service in 2007 and ever since has immersed himself in far-right Christian activist circles. He was ordained as a minister and got involved with Kingdom Warriors Ministry, whose home page claims, “the LORD is a warrior, the LORD is his name.” On that site is a 2011 video in which Boykin and anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney discuss the supposed threat to America of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, with Christian Broadcasting Network host Erick Stackelbeck.
Boykin also sits on the board of the Christian Dominionist-leaning Oak Initiative, which works to create a grassroots movement of likeminded Dominionists who will “mobilize and organize a cohesive force of activated Christians.” The website states, the Christian activists then “will be called to work on every level where government is found.” Dominion theology calls for Christians to implement a nation governed by Christians or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law. Boykin has also done videos for the Oak Initiative. In one, he claims that President Obama is developing his own “brownshirt army” to enforce healthcare and Marxism.
The Oak Initiative’s board includes a few well-known personalities on the radical Christian right, including its president, Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries, who has claimed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment for homosexuality, that Islam is also God’s judgment on America for allowing abortion and “other perversions,” and the Japanese earthquake of 2011 that resulted in a massive tsunami opened the doors to the same demonic forces that caused Nazism. Cindy Jacobs of the Generals International ministry also sits on the board. She’s perhaps best known for claiming that the mass bird die-offs in Arkansas in 2011 were caused because God was displeased about the repeal of the military’s anti-LGBT “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Lou Sheldon, the founder of the anti-LGBT hate group Traditional Values Coalition, is also on the board, as is Janet Folger (Porter) of Faith2Action Ministries, who peddles anti-LGBT myths about the “homosexual agenda” and has claimed that Obamacare would create “death panels” that would target Tea Party members.
In 2010, Boykin gave an interview to Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries, in which he expounded on his apocalyptic beliefs and his work with Kingdom Warriors Ministries. He told Wooding that Christians are persecuted in America at an unprecedented level and that Russia would eventually invade Israel, both predictions that Boykin claims are found in Scriptures.
For the most part, however, Boykin is now known publicly for his involvement on the anti-Islamic front. He helped author what’s known as the “Team B II report,” (2010) titled “Shariah: The Threat to America,” published by the anti-Islamic Center for Security Policy, headed by Frank Gaffney. The name “Team B II” is a nod to the original “Team B” report, in which conservative analysts were commissioned by the CIA in 1976 to assess the threat the Soviet Union posed. That report has been declassified, and determined to be mostly wrong on nearly every count, and it also grossly exaggerated the threat the Soviet Union then posed to the United States. A Senate investigative committee found in 1978 that the members of the original Team B had “yielded a flawed composition of political views and biases.”
The Team B II contributors are a list of anti-Islamic notables like Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi, and discredited FBI agent John Guandolo. Boykin was one of the “team leaders” in the Team B II report, along with his fellow retired military colleague Lt. Gen. Harry Soyster. The report is a 170-page compendium of conspiracy theories and anti-Islamic claims, including the notion that “many of the most prominent Muslim organizations in America are front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood,” which is trying to implement Shariah law all over America and the rest of the world. Gaffney, who has claimed that President Obama is a “secret Muslim,” admitted to a reporter in 2010 that he couldn’t name an actual Muslim or Islamic scholar who was consulted in the writing of the report.
In 2012, Boykin was hired by the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, where he is currently an executive vice president. He is tasked with, among other things, highlighting conservative opposition to Obama’s military policies, especially the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allows gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.
Boykin continues to insist that he is not anti-Muslim, though he has said that Islam is “evil” and should not be protected under the First Amendment. He also claimed there is a nefarious cabal at work that will implement a “one-world government,” a standard conspiracy theory among antigovernment “Patriot” groups.
In 2012, Boykin was scheduled to speak at a prayer breakfast at West Point. But his remarks were abruptly canceled after several Muslim organizations and liberal veterans’ groups protested his appearance at the event. VoteVets, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, released a letter to the president of West Point requesting that Boykin’s speaking invitation be rescinded because his “incendiary rhetoric regarding Islam” would put “our troops in danger.”
Incidents like that have not moderated Boykin’s views and Islam continues to be one of his main issues. Speaking to reporters during a break at the rightist and anti-Islamic National Security Action Summit (held to highlight speakers who were not invited to speak at CPAC) in Washington, D.C., in March 2014, Boykin claimed that Islam is full of subliminal messages, and that President Obama engaged in them as a way to encourage Muslims. Boykin added that “Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and everybody else” are taking advantage of this support and of a president who is “unwilling to go against them.”