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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/17/11

FBI training material portrays Islam as an indicator of terrorist activity

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The seven-million strong American Muslim community was shocked to know that the FBI has been using anti-Muslim instructors and Islamophobic materials in counterterrorism training.

An article published on Wired on Wednesday revealed that the FBI training materials teach counterterrorism agents that mainstream American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers, that the Prophet Mohammed was a "cult leader," and that Islamic charitable giving is a "funding mechanism for combat."

Spencer Ackerman's article - FBI Teaches Agents: Mainstream Muslims are Violent, Radical' - points to specific material and provides detailed examples of the materials being used.

Ackerman pointed out: At the Bureau's training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more "devout" a Muslim, the more likely he is to be "violent." Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: "Any war against non-believers is justified" under Muslim law; a "moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah."

Ackerman quoted excerpts from dozens of pages of recent FBI training material on Islam that Danger Room has acquired. In them, the constitutionally protected religious faith of millions of Americans is portrayed as an indicator of terrorist activity, he added.

This was the second shocking news for the American Muslim community in as many months. The New York Times reported last month that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has carried out covert surveillance on Muslims with the help of the CIA. The NYPD has collected intelligence on more than 250 mosques and Muslim student groups in and around New York, often using undercover officers and informants.

Spencer Ackerman's article quoted Mike German's (ACLU) as saying: " Seeing the materials FBI agents are being trained with certainly helps explain why we've seen so many inappropriate FBI surveillance operations broadly targeting the Muslim-American community, from infiltrating mosques with agents provocateur to racial- and ethnic-mapping programs [...] Biased police training can only result in biased policing."

American Muslim and Arab organizations have expressed over the FBI's apparent dismissal of repeated calls from civil rights advocates to cease using any offensive, inaccurate, and inflammatory material about Islam and Muslims as part of its counterterrorism training.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said despite past reassurances, the FBI has persisted in its practice of vilifying Islam and Muslim-Americans in its training material.  

ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub stated, "It is disappointing that despite our efforts to encourage open community dialogue with government agencies, our work is undermined by the FBI's continuous use of questionable tactics, such as data mapping, infiltration of mosques with agents provocateur, and the continued use of unconstitutional surveillance operations. The FBI must act swiftly to remove any and all offensive, inaccurate, and inflammatory material." 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller calling for "swift action" to reform the agency's use of anti-Muslim instructors and Islamophobic materials during counterterrorism training.

In its letter to Director Mueller, CAIR wrote in part: "We are concerned by persistent reports of FBI personnel receiving biased training about Muslims and Islam. We believe that just as good training results in good investigations, biased training will inevitably result in biased investigations.

"Last year, in partnership with nine organizations and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, we contacted you about a Joint Terrorism Taskforce (JTTF) training in Tidewater, Va., which featured notorious Islamophobe Robert Spencer. In a letter responding to our detailed concerns demonstrating Spencer's connection to hate groups, FBI Special Agent in Charge Alex Turner said, "[Spencer] was invited because of his reputation as a best-selling author.'

"Today, an article by Spencer Ackerman again demonstrates recent Islamophobic training being offered to your personnel, in this case by an individual employed by the agency as an intelligence analyst. Before being employed by the FBI, Mr. William Gawthrop, the analyst in question, had asserted his belief that "Muhammad's mindset is a source for terrorism."

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) condemned the bigoted statements made during their trainings about Islam and the state of the "mainstream" Muslim American community. "These harmful trainings are ineffective, immoral and counterproductive to the relationships we have developed and to  the identification of those who are truly out to harm the United States."

The MPAC also sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller asking for an immediate internal investigation into this matter and reassessment of the vetting process of trainers.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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