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New Documents Reveal FBI’s Islamophobic Counterterrorism Training

Friday, 16 September 2011 06:33 By Eli Clifton, ThinkProgress | Report

Counterterrorism agents at the FBI’s training center in Quantico, Virginia are being taught that “devout” Muslims are more likely to be “violent” and that American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers, according to training materials acquired by Wired’s Spencer Ackerman. (In fact, mosques have been found to be a deterrent to the spread of terrorism.)

An FBI spokesperson told Ackerman that the slides were no longer in use but dates on the slides would suggest that they were used at least until March 21.

The documents offer a violent interpretation of Islam in which “Any war against non-believers is justified” and a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.” A particularly blunt slide shows a comparison of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, depicting how they have moderated their “militancy considerations” over time:

The information in the slides is clearly Islamophobic and completely ignores the fact that Islamic extremism, while a national security concern worthy of sober discussion, is a limited problem within the United States and hardly a frequent phenomenon in Muslim communities. A recent Duke terrorism study showed that since 9/11, the U.S. has experienced only 33 deaths from Muslim terrorism while 150,000 murders have occurred during the same time.

Several of the slide presentations are the work of an FBI intelligence analyst named William Gawthrop who, in 2006, before he joined the Bureau, gave an interview to WorldNetDaily, in which he said “Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the FBI has given a stage to noted Islamophobes. In July, Ackerman identified that an FBI terrorism presentation recommended anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer’s book, “The Truth About Mohammed: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.”

Spencer, who is profiled in the Center for American Progress’ new Islamophobia report, “Fear, Inc.,” operates the blog Jihad Watch and co-founded the Stop Islamization of America group with Pamela Geller. Spencer is one of the core “misinformation experts” discussed in “Fear, Inc.” and has promoted the conspiracy theory that President Obama may be a Muslim. Notably, Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik cited Spencer’s work 162 times in his manifesto.

While the FBI is developing a track-record for giving pseudo-experts like Robert Spencer and William Gawthrop an opportunity to spread their Islamophobic views which demonize all Muslims, the truth is that Muslim communities have served as some of the most important allies for the FBI in their efforts to combat Muslim terrorists.

Update

The Seattle Times reports on a controversial community outreach workshop in Seattle intended to create better relationships between law enforcement and Seattle’s Muslim, Arab, East African and Sikh communities. The event, held earlier this month, took a turn for the worse when an FBI agent showed a PowerPoint slide about state-sponsored terrorism which included a photo of a man that the audience believed was a Shia Islamic leader. When asked if the photo was of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, a leader of the Iranian revolution, the agents said the photo was too small and they didn’t know the identity of the man. “That offended members of the audience even more, and one of them compared it to calling the pope a terrorist or serving pork to Muslims,” reports the Seattle Times. A Seattle Police Department detective at the meeting said that, “the community is tired of seeing their images represented” in presentations about terrorism.

Update

Muslim Advocates — a professional association of approximately 500 Muslim lawyers, law students and other legal professionals — announced they have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General requesting an immediate investigation into the FBI’s counterterrorism training. The letter can be viewed here.

Update

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) tells Wired’s Spencer Ackerman that “there is no room in America for the lies, propagated by al-Qaida, that the U.S. is at war with Islam, or the lie propagated by others that all Muslims support terrorism.”

CNN’s Brian Todd talked to Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes who told CNN that the publication of the slides could play into the hands of al-Qaeda for propaganda purposes and could diminish the FBI’s ability to get the America Muslim community to help in investigations.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton is a national security reporter for ThinkProgress.org. Eli holds a bachelor's degree from Bates College and a master's degree in international political economy from the London School of Economics. He previously reported on U.S. foreign policy for Inter Press Service, where he served as deputy Washington bureau chief. His work has appeared on PBS/Frontline's Tehran bureau, The South China Morning Post, Right Web, Asia Times, LobeLog.com, and ForeignPolicy.com.


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New Documents Reveal FBI’s Islamophobic Counterterrorism Training

Friday, 16 September 2011 06:33 By Eli Clifton, ThinkProgress | Report

Counterterrorism agents at the FBI’s training center in Quantico, Virginia are being taught that “devout” Muslims are more likely to be “violent” and that American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers, according to training materials acquired by Wired’s Spencer Ackerman. (In fact, mosques have been found to be a deterrent to the spread of terrorism.)

An FBI spokesperson told Ackerman that the slides were no longer in use but dates on the slides would suggest that they were used at least until March 21.

The documents offer a violent interpretation of Islam in which “Any war against non-believers is justified” and a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.” A particularly blunt slide shows a comparison of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, depicting how they have moderated their “militancy considerations” over time:

The information in the slides is clearly Islamophobic and completely ignores the fact that Islamic extremism, while a national security concern worthy of sober discussion, is a limited problem within the United States and hardly a frequent phenomenon in Muslim communities. A recent Duke terrorism study showed that since 9/11, the U.S. has experienced only 33 deaths from Muslim terrorism while 150,000 murders have occurred during the same time.

Several of the slide presentations are the work of an FBI intelligence analyst named William Gawthrop who, in 2006, before he joined the Bureau, gave an interview to WorldNetDaily, in which he said “Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the FBI has given a stage to noted Islamophobes. In July, Ackerman identified that an FBI terrorism presentation recommended anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer’s book, “The Truth About Mohammed: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.”

Spencer, who is profiled in the Center for American Progress’ new Islamophobia report, “Fear, Inc.,” operates the blog Jihad Watch and co-founded the Stop Islamization of America group with Pamela Geller. Spencer is one of the core “misinformation experts” discussed in “Fear, Inc.” and has promoted the conspiracy theory that President Obama may be a Muslim. Notably, Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik cited Spencer’s work 162 times in his manifesto.

While the FBI is developing a track-record for giving pseudo-experts like Robert Spencer and William Gawthrop an opportunity to spread their Islamophobic views which demonize all Muslims, the truth is that Muslim communities have served as some of the most important allies for the FBI in their efforts to combat Muslim terrorists.

Update

The Seattle Times reports on a controversial community outreach workshop in Seattle intended to create better relationships between law enforcement and Seattle’s Muslim, Arab, East African and Sikh communities. The event, held earlier this month, took a turn for the worse when an FBI agent showed a PowerPoint slide about state-sponsored terrorism which included a photo of a man that the audience believed was a Shia Islamic leader. When asked if the photo was of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, a leader of the Iranian revolution, the agents said the photo was too small and they didn’t know the identity of the man. “That offended members of the audience even more, and one of them compared it to calling the pope a terrorist or serving pork to Muslims,” reports the Seattle Times. A Seattle Police Department detective at the meeting said that, “the community is tired of seeing their images represented” in presentations about terrorism.

Update

Muslim Advocates — a professional association of approximately 500 Muslim lawyers, law students and other legal professionals — announced they have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General requesting an immediate investigation into the FBI’s counterterrorism training. The letter can be viewed here.

Update

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) tells Wired’s Spencer Ackerman that “there is no room in America for the lies, propagated by al-Qaida, that the U.S. is at war with Islam, or the lie propagated by others that all Muslims support terrorism.”

CNN’s Brian Todd talked to Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes who told CNN that the publication of the slides could play into the hands of al-Qaeda for propaganda purposes and could diminish the FBI’s ability to get the America Muslim community to help in investigations.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton is a national security reporter for ThinkProgress.org. Eli holds a bachelor's degree from Bates College and a master's degree in international political economy from the London School of Economics. He previously reported on U.S. foreign policy for Inter Press Service, where he served as deputy Washington bureau chief. His work has appeared on PBS/Frontline's Tehran bureau, The South China Morning Post, Right Web, Asia Times, LobeLog.com, and ForeignPolicy.com.


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