FBI ‘Islam 101′ Guide Depicted Muslims as 7th-Century Simpletons

By Spencer Ackerman

 

As recently as January 2009, the FBI thought its agents ought to know the following crucial information about Muslims:

  • They engage in a “circumcision ritual”
  • More than 9,000 of them are in the U.S. military
  • Their religion “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.”

And this was what the FBI considered “recommended reading” about Islam:

All this is revealed in a PowerPoint presentation by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications... (.pdf), which trains new Bureau recruits. Among the 62 slides in the presentation, designed to teach techniques for “successful interviews/interrogations with individuals from the M.E. [Middle East],” is an instruction that the “Arabic mind” is “swayed more by words than ideas and more by ideas than facts.”

The briefing presents much information that has nothing to do with crime and everything to do with constitutionally-protected religious practice and social behavior, such as estimating the number of mosques in America and listing the states with the largest Muslim populations.

Other slides paint Islam in a less malicious light, and one urges “respectful liaison” as a “proactive approach” to engaging Muslims. But even those exhibit what one American Muslim civil rights leader calls “the understanding of a third grader, and even then, a badly misinformed third grader.”

One slide asks, “Is Iran an Arab country?” (It’s not.) Another is just a picture of worry beads.

“Based on this presentation, it is easy to see why so many in law enforcement and the FBI view American Muslims with ignorance and suspicion,” says Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates, a legal aid group. “The presentation appears to treat all Muslims with one broad brush and makes no distinction between lawful religious practice and beliefs and unlawful activities.”

 

A grainy copy of the PowerPoint was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California chapter and the Asian Law Caucus, a San Francisco-based civil rights group, and provided to Danger Room. The two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year inquiring about government surveillance of American Muslim communities.

“In order for FBI training to be effective it has to present useful, factual and unbiased information. This material fails on all three criteria,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who now works for the ACLU. “Factually flawed and biased law enforcement training programs only expand the risk that innocent Muslim and Arab Americans will be unfairly targeted for investigation and prosecution, and stigmatized in their communities.” [Full disclosure: My fiancee works for the ACLU.]

In response to queries from Danger Room, the FBI issued the following statement about the PowerPoint: “The FBI new agent population at Quantico is exposed to a diverse curriculum in many specific areas, including Islam and Muslim culture. The presentation in question was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced. It was a small part of a larger segment of training that also included material produced by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point.”

It is unclear when the FBI stopped using the PowerPoint.

Among the most provocative aspects of the presentation is its recommended reading list. One book offered is The Truth About Mohammed: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, by Robert Spencer. Spencer is one of the ringleaders of the protest against the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” and the co-founder of Stop the Islamicization of America, which “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda,” in the view of the Anti-Defamation League. A manifesto written by the Norwegian terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik cited Spencer 64 times.

Another book cited is The Arab Mind, by Raphael Patai. The volume was briefly infamous in 2004, after Seymour Hersh reported its influence among certain Iraq war hawks in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal. According to Hersh, the takeaway of Patai’s book is that “Arabs only understand force” and are susceptible to “shame and humiliation.”

“It’s like asking law enforcement to learn ‘the facts’ about the African American experience by reading a book by the grand wizard of the KKK,” says Khera. “It is deplorable and offensive that the nation’s top law enforcement agency would promote such hateful so-called ‘experts’ on Islam.”

An FBI spokesman said Spencer’s book is no longer on the reading list but was not sure about the others. “We encourage our agents to seek out a variety of viewpoints. That does not mean we endorse or adopt the view of any particular author,” the bureau’s statement continues. “Broad knowledge is essential for us to better understand and respond to the threats we face. Knowledge also helps us defeat ignorance and strengthen relationships with the diverse communities that we serve.”

When dealing with Muslims and counterterrorism, the FBI’s record is mixed. It’s sent informants into mosques and used operatives to coax suspected extremists into active terror plots, arresting them before anyone was hurt. But its agents also stood up against torture at Guantanamo Bay and in the CIA’s undisclosed prisons. FBI Director Robert Mueller testified in 2008 that many of its terrorism cases “are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the Un....”

In recent years, law enforcement agencies around the country have proven receptive to anti-Muslim crusaders. The Washington Monthly recently reported on the “growing profession” of terrorism consultants who get paid to make “sweeping generalizations about Muslims” to rapt audiences of cops. Adam Serwer at the American Prospect reports that another Breivik favorite, Walid Shoebat, also gets government cash to tell police things like “Islam is the devil.”

At a Capitol Hill event on Monday, a Florida-based researcher named Peter Leitner claimed that up to 6,000 Muslims in America are a “fifth column.” According to Leitner’s official biography, he founded a group called the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center; Higgins claims to have provided counterterrorism instruction to “FBI Counterterrorism Special Agents,” various police departments countrywide and even Blackwater.

“These characterizations of Islam and of Arab and Muslim people are not just disheartening — they are frightening,” says Veena Dubal, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus. “Degrading and inaccurate characterizations of Islam and of the ‘Arab mind’ don’t help individual agents fight terrorism. Rather, they imbue law enforcement with an extremely biased view of a diverse community.”

 

Source: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/07/fbi-islam-101-guide/

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It's interesting to see how the Christian right-wingers in America, like the Hindu Nationalists in India, are trying to distance themselves from Breivik. It's the same people who routinely blame the entire Muslim faith for the actions of a few who claim to be Muslim.

Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post report:

On Wednesday’s “Daily Show,” Stewart took issue with Fox News claiming that the “liberal media” unfairly labeled the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, as a Christian, therefore victimizing other Christians in the process.

On Fox Business Network’s “America’s Nightly Scoreboard,” contributor Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said that Breivik is not a Christian because “anybody can claim anything,” and also that the suspect is “a godsend to the liberal media.”

“There have been tens of thousands of Islamist terrorist attacks, and the media have rushed to say it's nothing to do with Islam,” he said. “Now one crazy claims he's a Christian and commits an act of terror, and ... we expect more Christian terrorists.”

Bill O’Reilly said it was “impossible” that Breivik is Christian just because he claimed he was one. But Stewart pointed out that O’Reilly felt comfortable calling the suspect in the Fort Hood shooting, Nidal Malik Hasan, a “Muslim terrorist” because he had a business card that read “Soldier of Allah.”

“See. That guy printed up a ‘Soldier of Allah’ business card. The other guy only printed up an ‘Army of Christ’ manifesto,” Stewart said. “I guess the only connection is both psychos, for some reason, spent the day at Kinko’s.”

Jordan Sekulow, The Post’s Religion Right Now blogger, agreed that Breivik is not a “Christian” just because he used the term.

“Breivik is not a ‘Christian terrorist’ because, according to his own description of what the word ‘Christian’ means to him, and his actions, he is not a Christian,” Sekulow wrote.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, a contributor to The Post’s On Faith, thinks O’Reilly’s claim is “nonsense.”

“Breivik says he is a Christian; he wrote a ‘manifesto’ in which he attempts to link Christianity to opposition to Muslim immigration,” Lynn wrote. “Yet he failed miserably to understand the faith he claimed to champion.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/jon-stewart-fox-n...

Here's some data for the Islamophobes in the West who exaggerate the problem of "Islamic Terrorism" to advance their hateful agenda:

 

Only 6% of terror incidents in the US have had any links to Muslims since 911, according to a Duke Study published last year and reported by CNN.

According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%). These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion. These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/01/06/muslim.radicalization.study/

Similarly, the Europol TE-Stat 2011 report appendix 2 shows that only 3 out of 249 terror incidents in Europe in 2010 involved Muslim attackers.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/sites/default/files/publications/te-s...

 

Attachments:

Here are some excerpts of a NY Times story "Radical U.S. Muslims Little Threat, Study Says":

A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.

The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.

Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.

The report also found that no single ethnic group predominated among Muslims charged in terrorism cases last year — six were of Arab ancestry, five were white, three were African-American and two were Iranian, Mr. Kurzman said. That pattern of ethnic diversity has held for those arrested since Sept. 11, 2001, he said.

Forty percent of those charged in 2011 were converts to Islam, Mr. Kurzman found, slightly higher than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks. His new report is based on the continuation of research he conducted for a book he published last year, “The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.”

The decline in cases since 2009 has come as a relief to law enforcement and counterterrorism officials. In that year, the authorities were surprised by a series of terrorist plots or attacks, including the killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., by an Army psychiatrist who had embraced radical Islam, Maj. Nidal Hasan.
------------------
But the number of cases declined, returning to the rough average of about 20 Muslim Americans accused of extremist violence per year that has prevailed since the 2001 attacks, with 193 people in that category over the decade. By Mr. Kurzman’s count, 462 other Muslim Americans have been charged since 2001 for nonviolent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.

The 2011 cases include just one actual series of attacks, which caused no injuries, involving rifle shots fired late at night at military buildings in Northern Virginia. A former Marine Corps reservist, Yonathan Melaku, pleaded guilty in the case last month in an agreement that calls for a 25-year prison sentence.

Other plots unearthed by law enforcement last year and listed in Mr. Kurzman’s report included a suspected Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, a scheme to attack a Shiite mosque in Michigan and another to blow up synagogues, churches and the Empire State Building.

“Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities,” Mr. Kurzman said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/us/radical-muslim-americans-pose-...

Excerpts of NY Times Op Ed on France's Sarkozy exploiting xenophobia:

Mr. Sarkozy may think it is smart politics to pander to racism and xenophobia. He has done it before. And, sadly, his harsh new tone has given him a quick boost in the polls. But it is damaging to French society. And it may prove a mixed political blessing in May. Many French voters already think that he lacks presidential dignity.

Times are tough in France, but Mr. Sarkozy could have run a more elevated campaign. He has domestic achievements (pension reform) and international achievements (Libya). His main opponent, Mr. Hollande, has vague ideas and unrealistic economic proposals.

Instead, Mr. Sarkozy has chosen the low road. At a packed rally on Sunday, he attacked European Union trade rules, which he said had opened French markets to “savage” competition, and called for a protectionist “buy European” rule for public spending that would raise costs and invite retaliation. He also threatened to suspend French participation in Europe’s 25-nation open border agreement unless others did more to keep illegal immigrants and refugees out of Europe. A few days earlier, he had attacked legal immigration, promising a 50 percent cut in admissions for family reunification.

In a particularly vile gambit from a man who already brags about banning the burqa in public and Muslim-style street prayer, Mr. Sarkozy now pledges to protect French consumers from unknowingly eating halal meat, slaughtered in accordance with Muslim dietary codes. He called for legislation requiring all meat labels to note the slaughtering methods used. This proposal originally came from Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate of the unabashedly xenophobic National Front. Mr. Sarkozy first rightly called it frivolous. Then he adopted it.

Five million to six million Muslims now live in France, almost a tenth of the total population. It is cruel to keep family members from joining them and cruel and destructive to subject their religion to mockery. Ms. Le Pen is currently running third in the polls. Regrettably, Mr. Sarkozy has no problem being frivolous or cruel if it means he can peel away some of her voters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/opinion/mr-sarkozy-on-the-low-roa...

Those who embrace Islam tend to do so after years of contact with Muslims. (Ms Lewthwaite reportedly had a close relationship with Muslim neighbours during her youth.) Some, mostly women who make up around two-thirds of new believers in Britain, convert because they want to marry a Muslim. Others are fed up with what they see as the bawdiness of British society. Many speak of seeking a sense of community. Prisons have proven fertile ground for conversions for men. Some worry that those who convert in jail are exposed to more radical strains of Islam; others say that Islam's discipline and structure, along with the support they received from other Muslims, helped them to cope with life inside.

...converts who turn to terrorism, as Ms Lewthwaite is suspected of doing, are rare. Indeed, the vast, peaceable majority may help to bridge the gap between Muslims and others. In Western countries the growth in converts is part of Islam’s transition from an immigrant religion to a home-grown one.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/09/economist...

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents 150 victims of American drones and was twice denied entry to the U.S. to speak about them, told my Intercept colleague Ryan Devereaux how two of his child clients would likely react to Obama’s “apology” yesterday:

“Today, if Nabila or Zubair or many of the civilian victims, if they are watching on TV the president being so remorseful over the killing of a Westerner, what message is that taking?” The answer, he argued, is “that you do not matter, you are children of a lesser God, and I’m only going to mourn if a Westerner is killed.”

The British-Yemeni journalist Abubakr Al-Shamahi put it succinctly: “It makes me angry that non-Western civilian victims of drone strikes are not given the same recognition by the US administration.” The independent journalist Naheed Mustafa said she was “hugely irritated by the ‘drone strikes have killed good Westerners so now we know there are issues with drones’ stories.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson this morning observed: “It is all too easy to ignore … the dubious morality of the whole enterprise — until the unfortunate victims happen to be Westerners. Only then does ‘collateral damage’ become big news and an occasion for public sorrow.”

This highlights the ugliest propaganda tactic on which the War on Terror centrally depends, one in which the U.S. media is fully complicit: American and Western victims of violence by Muslims are endlessly mourned, while Muslim victims of American and Western violence are completely disappeared.

When there is an attack by a Muslim on Westerners in Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Fort Hood or Boston, we are deluged with grief-inducing accounts of the victims. We learn their names and their extinguished life aspirations, see their pictures, hear from their grieving relatives, watch ceremonies honoring their lives and mourning their deaths, launch campaigns to memorialize them. Our side’s victims aren’t just humanized by our media, but are publicly grieved as martyrs.

I happened to be in Canada the week of the shooting at the Parliament in Ottawa, as well as a random attack on two Canadian soldiers days earlier in a parking lot in Southern Quebec, and there was non-stop media coverage of the victims, their families, their lives:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/24/central-war-terror-pr... 

The shooting in Charleston this week that ended with nine people dead fits the textbook description of a terrorist attack. The victims were African American, gunned down at a historic black church. The suspect is a white 21-year-old who was apparently a white supremacist.

“I don’t even think twice about it,” says Juliette Kayyem, a former counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security. “This is a template, essentially at this stage, for terrorism. He says what he’s doing, he says why he’s doing it, he says what he wants the result [to be],” Kayyem says. “Too much ink has been wasted on this question. It is terrorism.”

It is important to accurately label acts of terrorism for a host of different reasons. People in the news media need to be accurate if they want to maintain any credibility. The history of violence perpetrated against African Americans in US history is part of the story and needs to be acknowledged. There has also been a tendency to use the “terrorism” when the suspects are foreign, especially Muslim, says Michael German, a former FBI official who worked undercover to prosecute white supremacists.

“Since 9-11, when people use the word ‘terrorism’, they’re referring only to one type of violence and ignoring the fact that terrorism committed by Muslims is only one piece of the political violence that takes place not just in American society, but around the world,” German says.

“The numbers of people killed by far-right extremists [in the US] typically exceeds any other type of group on an annual basis,” he says. 

White supremacist groups remain a persistent threat in the US, German adds. The 1993 bombing in Oklahoma City was the worst terrorist attack on US soil until September 11, 2001. Radical right-wing groups have also tried to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

But German says law enforcement needs to be smart about the way it responds to any and all terrorist threats, and avoid the worst excesses committed during America’s long-running "war on terror." “If we are going to have a counterterrorism effort, it should be focused on the actual people who are engaging in terrorist acts,” German says. “They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The "terrorism" label can lead to problems in law enforcement, German says. One of them includes going after people who espouse ideologies considered radical. “Once you go down that path, there are a lot of different things [we] don’t agree with. And once people begin to be targeted for their beliefs, when they’re not actually engaged in criminal activity, that hurts our society as well.”

Federal officials say they are investigating the shooting in Charleston from all angles. "The department is looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism," Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement.

From a legal perspective, labeling the attack in Charleston an act of terrorism could cause problems by making the case against the suspected shooter more difficult to prosecute. “Terrorism charges are sometimes unnecessary,” Kayyem says. In the case of the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, for example, Dzokhar Tsarnaev did not face formal terrorism charges.

“A lot of times, prosecutors do not want to bring cases that require proof of intent,” she says. “If the facts are there, then just bring a factual case. I have no problem saying this is terrorism, but also being very comfortable with this just being a series of murder charges, legally speaking.”

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-06-19/course-charleston-shooting-wa...

#American #Muslim Leaders Wage Theological Battle, Stoking ISIS’ Anger, tiggering #FBI protection. #Islamophobia

There are many Muslim scholars who are risking their lives to counter radicals within their faith. I know many in Pakistan who have either been killed (example: Dr. Shakil Auj) or fled for their lives (example: Dr. Ghamdi). Even in the US, there are significant threats requiring FBI protection for Hamza Yousuf and Suhaib Webb and other scholars


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/09/us/isis-threatens-muslim-preacher...

Here's an excerpt from NY Times:


As the military and political battle against the Islamic State escalates, Muslim imams and scholars in the West are fighting on another front — through theology.

Imam Suhaib Webb, a Muslim leader in Washington, has held live monthly video chats to refute the religious claims of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a dig at the extremists, he broadcast from ice cream parlors and called his talks “ISIS and ice cream.”

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American Muslim scholar based in Berkeley, Calif., has pleaded with Muslims not to be deceived by the “stupid young boys” of the Islamic State. Millions have watched excerpts from his sermon titled “The Crisis of ISIS,” in which he wept as he asked God not to blame other Muslims “for what these fools amongst us do.”


It is a religious rumble that barely makes headlines in the secular West since it is carried out at mosques and Islamic conferences and over social media.

The Islamic State, however, has taken notice.

The group recently threatened the lives of 11 Muslim imams and scholars in the West, calling them “apostates” who should be killed. The recent issue of the Islamic State’s online propaganda magazine, Dabiq, called them “obligatory targets,” and it said that supporters should use any weapons on hand to “make an example of them.”

The danger is real enough that the F.B.I. has contacted some of those named in the Islamic State’s magazine “to assist them in taking proper steps to ensure their safety,” said Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington.

The death threats are a sign that Muslim religious leaders have antagonized the Islamic State, according to analysts who are studying the militant group. Their growing influence also contradicts those who claim that Muslim leaders have been silent in the fight against violent extremism.

“This is what hurts ISIS the most. It is Muslims speaking out,” said Mubin Shaikh, a Canadian who once joined an extremist Islamist group and now advises governments on countering radicalization. “Fear-mongering is what ISIS is trying to do, whether to silence these people or to silence others as a deterrent.”

Several of the targeted Muslim leaders said in interviews that, while they were taking the threat seriously, they had no intention of backing off. They have hired security guards and fortified their workplaces, and some keep guns at home.

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