If you thought the FBI’s reputation for Muslim relations was already bad, Wired's Spencer Ackerman has now obtained "recent FBI training material on Islam" that has severely exacerbated that reputation. By KHADIJA PATEL .
Ten years after the cataclysmic events of September 2001 in New York, the FBI and Muslim communities across the US have tried and failed to build a relationship of trust, sharing information both to fight terrorism and to protect the interests of mosques and communities in the country. The Tea Party’s amplified anti-Muslim paranoia has not helped the cause of Muslims or “moslems” in America, and the community is yet to live down the ignominy of sharing the faith of America’s avowed enemies. For years following 9/11, it has been the accepted lot of Muslims to be treated with suspicion. But in 2009, a national coalition of Islamic organisations warned that it would cease cooperating with the FBI unless the agency stopped infiltrating mosques and using “agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth”.
The latest insight into the mechanics of FBI training against Muslims will not endear the law enforcement agency and the American government to Muslim communities across the world. “Mainstream Muslims”, whoever they are, are according to this FBI course, violent and radical. Excuse me, dear readers, while I detonate my bomb.
The level of ignorance peddled in the course as hard facts to assist FBI agents in their dealings with Muslims is astounding. The course notes reveal that Muslims engage in a "circumcision ritual", more than 9,000 of them are in the US military and their religion "transforms [a] country's culture into 7th-century Arabian ways”. A book by one of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik's favourite anti-Muslim authors was also listed as recommended reading.
The briefings obtained by Wired reveal that "main stream" [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathisers, 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". Agents were also 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".
The FBI has moved swiftly to enact a semblance of distance to the PDF slides, claiming that "the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US government". The main author of the briefings is reportedly an FBI intelligence analyst, William Gawthrop, who once famously said that "Muhammad's mindset is a source for terrorism". The FBI also clarified that these briefings were held on 21 March this year and "[t]his particular training segment was delivered a single time and not used since".
Significantly this is not the first time Wired have exposed curiosities in way the FBI trains agents to deal with Muslims. In July this year, the same journalist exposed a set of slides in a 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 biting irony of these revelations is that they will certainly deal a great blow against counter terrorism efforts and further entrench mistrust between Muslims in the US, and the law enforcement agency tasked to protect them. DM
- FBI Teaches Agents: “Mainstream” Muslims Are “Violent, Radical” in Wired;
- Muslims Say F.B.I. Tactics Sow Anger and Fear in The New York Times;
- FBI’s ‘Islam 101′ Depicted Muslims as 7th-Century Simpletons in Wired.