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Report: FBI Counterterrorism Trainings Paint Muslims As 'Violent' And 'Radical'
Originally published on Tue September 20, 2011 1:35 pm
For the past week, Wired's Danger Room has been following a thread on how the FBI trains its agents on the subject of Islam. It started last week, when the national security blog obtained presentation materials that painted Muslims as a whole with the broad brush of violence and terrorism.
Here's how Wired introduced its first piece:
The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that "main stream" [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a "cult leader"; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a "funding mechanism for combat."
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."
That part of the training was made clear by this graph, obtained by Wired:
The FBI issued a statement quickly, saying the training "does not reflect the views of the FBI:
The FBI is committed to protecting Americans' rights under the U.S. Constitution, including a person's right to live, work, and worship as they wish. Strong religious beliefs should never be confused with violent extremism. Views that are contrary should not and will not be taught to FBI employees.
In its statement, the FBI also said the training was conducted "one time only" and "quickly discontinued because it was inconsistent with FBI standards on this topic."
But, today, Wired dug up yet another presentation by FBI intelligence analyst William Gawthrop. This one was given at an FBI-sponsored event for law enforcement officials in New York in June.
What he said at that presentation is just as incendiary as what was in the first presentation. Wired reports:
"We waste a lot of analytic effort talking about the type of weapon, the timing, the tactics. All of that is irrelevant ... if you have an Islamic motivation for actions," Gawthrop said. Even taking down hostile states like Iran is futile, since "there are still internal forces that will seek to exert Islamic rule again."
The best strategy for undermining militants, Gawthrop suggested, is to go after Islam itself. To undermine the validity of key Islamic scriptures and key Muslim leaders.
"If you remember Star Wars, that ventilation shaft that goes down to into the depths of the Death Star, they shot a torpedo down there. That's a critical vulnerability," Gawthrop told his audience. Then he waved a laser pointer at his projected PowerPoint slide, calling attention to the words "Holy Texts" and "Clerics."
"We should be looking at, should be aiming at, these," Gawthrop said.
Earlier this year, Washington Monthly ran a long story exposing the same kind of training. The magazine profiled one counterterrorism expert called Sam Kharoba, who was training Florida law enforcement officers. Washington Monthly reports:
America today is too politically correct to acknowledge the reality of Islamic fanaticism, Kharoba said. "Would Islam be tolerated if everyone knew its true message?" he asked the class. "From a Muslim perspective, do you want non-Muslims to know the truth about Islam?"
"No!" came the audience reply.
"So what do Muslims do?" Kharoba demanded.
Kharoba strode forward to the front of the room, his voice slower now, more measured. "Islam is a highly violent radical religion that mandates that all of the earth must be Muslim."
In its stories Wired points out that many terrorism experts don't agree with this worldview. And on Capitol Hill, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have demanded that the training curriculum be properly vetted.
"An initial review by our staff reveals that agencies providing grants to state and local law enforcement lack meaningful standards for counter-terrorism curriculum and an adequate vetting process for individual trainers," Lieberman and Collins wrote.
"In addition, state and local law enforcement often have little to no guidance from the federal government on what counter-terrorism training should entail," they write. "The result has often been cases of trainers spewing inaccurate or even bigoted information to state and local law enforcement personnel, stigmatizing Muslim-Americans generally, and in effect, lending support to the false narrative that we are 'at war' with Islam."