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.
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.