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Posted by Robert Spencer Bio ↓ on Sep 19th, 2011
The FBI came under fire again Wednesday from hard-Left journalist Spencer Ackerman in Wired, who has been conducting a campaign for some time to get the bureau to purge its terrorism training seminars of any hint of the truth about the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.
Ackerman reported with breathless self-righteous indignation that “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.’”
Like virtually all Leftist and Islamic supremacist critiques of anti-jihad and anti-terror material, Ackerman’s piece takes for granted that such assertions are false, without bothering to explain how or why. Apparently Ackerman believes that their falsity is so self-evident as to require no demonstration; unfortunately for him, however, no one else has provided any proof of this, either. And there is considerable evidence that what this FBI training material asserts is true.
Are mainstream American Muslims “likely to be terrorist sympathizers”? Certainly all the mainstream Muslim organizations condemn al-Qaeda and 9/11; however, some of the foremost of those organizations, such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Students Association, and the Council of American-Islamic Relations, and others, have links of various kinds to the jihad terrorist group Hamas and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is dedicated to imposing Islamic law around the world. A mainstream Muslim spokesman in the U.S., the Ground Zero Mosque Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, refused to condemn Hamas until it became too politically damaging for him not to do so; another, CAIR’s Nihad Awad, openly declared his support for Hamas in 1994. Another mainstream Muslim spokesman in this country, Reza Aslan, has praised another jihad terrorist group, Hizballah, and called on the U.S. to negotiate with Hamas. Other mainstream Muslim spokesmen in the U.S. such as Obama’s ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Rashad Hussain, and media gadfly Hussein Ibish, have praised and defended the confessed leader of another jihad terror group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Sami al-Arian.
Do these men and organizations represent a tiny minority of extremists that actually does not express the opinions of the broad mainstream of Muslims in this country? Maybe, but if so, they simply do not have any counterparts of comparable size or influence who have not expressed sympathy for some form of Islamic terror.
Was Muhammad a “cult leader”? Certainly one definition of a cult is that members are not free to opt out if they choose to do so – and it was Muhammad who enunciated Islam’s notorious death penalty for apostasy by saying, ““Whoever changes his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Bukhari 9.84.57). Also, there are several celebrated incidents in which Muhammad lashed out violently against his opponents, ordering the murder of several people for the crime of making fun of him — including the poet Abu ‘Afak, who was over one hundred years old, and the poetess ‘Asma bint Marwan. Abu ‘Afak was killed in his sleep, in response to Muhammad’s question, “Who will avenge me on this scoundrel?” Similarly, Muhammad on another occasion cried out, “Will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?” One of his followers, ‘Umayr ibn ‘Adi, went to her house that night, where he found her sleeping next to her children. The youngest, a nursing babe, was in her arms. But that didn’t stop ‘Umayr from murdering her and the baby as well. Muhammad commended him: “You have done a great service to Allah and His Messenger, ‘Umayr!” (Ibn Ishaq, 674-676).
Is the “Islamic practice of giving charity” no more than a “‘funding mechanism for combat’”? If not, one wonders why so many Islamic charities in the United States and around the world have been shut down for funding terrorism, including what was once the largest Islamic charity in the United States, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), as well as the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), and many others.
Is it true that “the more ‘devout’ a Muslim, the more likely he is to be ‘violent,’” and is it also true that “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah”? While certainly not all devout Muslims are terrorists, virtually all Islamic terrorists are devout Muslims. In recent years, not only Osama bin Laden but also devout Muslims such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would-be Times Square bomber Feisal Shahzad, Arkansas jihad murderer Abdulhakim Muhammad, and other jihad terror plotters such as Khalid Aldawsari, Baitullah Mehsud, and Roshonara Choudhry, among many others, reference Islamic teachings to justify violence against unbelievers. Just this week, Detroit underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab declared in court that Muslims should only be judged by the Qur’an.
Can “any war against non-believers” really be “‘justified’ under Muslim law”? Majid Khadduri, an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:
The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.
A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law endorsed by the most prestigious institution in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, says that the leader of the Muslims “makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax,” and cites Qur’an 9:29 in support of this idea: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden-who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book-until they pay the poll tax out of hand and are humbled.” (‘Umdat al-Salik o9.8)
Are there wars against unbelievers that cannot be justified by Islamic law? Certainly. But there is also a broad mandate for such wars – broad enough to have served as a justification for wars between Muslims and non-Muslims throughout history. During World War I, the crumbling Ottoman Empire even tried to shore up support for its war against the Allies by declaring it a jihad.
In the face of Ackerman’s reports, the FBI is in full retreat. It announced after an earlier report that it had banned use of my book The Truth About Muhammad, which is simply a biography of Muhammad based on the earliest Muslim sources. And this latest report quickly drove the bureau further into Lysenkoism; it quickly announced late Thursday that it was dropping the latest program that Ackerman had zeroed in on as well.
Lysenkoism was ideologically biased junk science regarding biology and agriculture that was adopted as official policy by the Soviet Union under Stalin. The real scientists who told the truth were sent to the gulag.
It is no surprise that in an official environment that refuses to speak about “Islam” and “terrorism” in the same sentence — a policy which must involve quite a lot of mental and verbal gymnastics when jihad terrorists start quoting Qur’an and other Islamic sources — that the truth about Islam would come under fire whenever it appears as part of counterterrorism studies. It is no surprise that in an official environment that thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular” and that jihad is a wholly positive interior spiritual struggle would get nervous at revelations that somewhere the truth about Islam and jihad was getting through.
As Lysenkoism grows more entrenched and the FBI’s heads planted more firmly in the sand, Spencer Ackerman’s responsibility for the next jihad attack in the U.S. grows apace.
About Robert Spencer
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Regnery), and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).
FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’
By Spencer Ackerman September 14, 2011 | 8:45 pm |
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.”
THE FBI’S ISLAM TRAINING DOCUMENTS
Strategic Themes and Drivers in Islamic Law
Doctrinal Basis for Jihad
Chart: Violence and Adherence to the Torah, Bible and Koran
These are 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.
“There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology,” one FBI presentation notes. “The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.”
The FBI isn’t just treading on thin legal ice by portraying ordinary, observant Americans as terrorists-in-waiting, former counterterrorism agents say. It’s also playing into al-Qaida’s hands.
Focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens instead of proven indicators of criminal activity like stockpiling guns or using shady financing makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism. And depicting Islam as inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict. That’s why FBI whistleblowers provided Danger Room with these materials.
Over the past few years, American Muslim civil rights groups have raised alarm about increased FBI and police presence in Islamic community centers and mosques, fearing that their lawful behavior is being targeted under the broad brush of counterterrorism. The documents may help explain the heavy scrutiny.
They certainly aren’t the first time the FBI has portrayed Muslims in a negative light during Bureau training sessions. As Danger Room reported in July, the FBI’s Training Division has included anti-Islam books, and materials that claim Islam “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.” When Danger Room confronted the FBI with that material, an official statement issued to us claimed, “The presentation in question was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced.”
But these documents aren’t relics from an earlier era. One of these briefings, titled “Strategic Themes and Drivers in Islamic Law,” took place on March 21.
The Islam briefings are elective, not mandatory. “A disclaimer accompanied the presentation stating that the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. government,” FBI spokesman Christopher Allen tells Danger Room.
“The training materials in question were delivered as Stage Two training to counterterrorism-designated agents,” Allen adds. “This training was largely derived from a variety of open source publications and includes the opinion of the analyst that developed the lesson block.”
Not all counterterrorism veterans consider the briefings so benign. “Teaching counterterrorism operatives about obscure aspects of Islam,” says Robert McFadden, who recently retired as one of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service’s al-Qaida-hunters, “without context, without objectivity, and without covering other non-religious drivers of dangerous behavior is no way to stop actual terrorists.”
Still, at Quantico, the alleged connection between Islam and violence isn’t just stipulated. It’s literally graphed.
An FBI presentation titled “Militancy Considerations” measures the relationship between piety and violence among the texts of the three Abrahamic faiths. As time goes on, the followers of the Torah and the Bible move from “violent” to “non-violent.” Not so for devotees of the Koran, whose “moderating process has not happened.” The line representing violent behavior from devout Muslims flatlines and continues outward, from 610 A.D. to 2010. In other words, religious Muslims have been and always will be agents of aggression.
Training at Quantico isn’t designed for intellectual bull sessions or abstract theory, according to FBI veterans. The FBI conducts its training so that both seasoned agents and new recruits can sharpen their investigative skills.
In this case, the FBI’s Allen says, the counterterrorism agents who received these briefings have “spent two to three years on the job.” The briefings are written accordingly. The stated purpose of one, about allegedly religious-sanctioned lying, is to “identify the elements of verbal deception in Islam and their impacts on Law Enforcement.” Not “terrorism.” Not even “Islamist extremism.” Islam.
According to this FBI training, religious Muslims have been and always will be agents of aggression.
What’s more, the Islamic “insurgency” is all-encompassing and insidious. In addition to outright combat, its “techniques” include “immigration” and “law suits.” So if a Muslim wishes to become an American or sues the FBI for harassment, it’s all just part of the jihad.
On Tuesday, the leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), warned that law enforcement lacks “meaningful standards” to prevent anti-Islam material from seeping into counterterrorism training. Some FBI veterans suspect the increased pressure on American Muslims has a lot to do with the kind of training that Quantico offers.
“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,” Mike German, a former FBI agent now with the American Civil Liberties Union, tells Danger Room after being shown the documents. ”Biased police training can only result in biased policing.” (Full disclosure: This reporter’s wife works for the ACLU.)
The chief of the Training Division, Assistant FBI Director Thomas Browne, came into his current job in January. His official biography lists no terrorism expertise beyond serving as a coordinator for a bureau “Domestic Terrorism Program” in Tennessee sometime in the last decade.
It is unclear what vetting process the FBI used to approve these briefings; if any Muslim scholars contributed to them; and what criteria Quantico uses to determine Islamic expertise. “The development of effective training is a constantly evolving process,” says FBI spokesman Allen. “Sometimes the training is adapted for long-term use. This particular training segment was delivered a single time and not used since.”
Several of these briefings were the work of a single author: an FBI intelligence analyst named William Gawthrop. In 2006, before he joined the Bureau, he gave an interview to the website WorldNetDaily, and discussed some of the themes that made it into his briefings, years later. The Prophet “Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism,” Gawthrop told the website, which would later distinguish itself as a leader of the “birther” movement, a conspiracy theory that denies President Obama’s American citizenship.
At the time, Gawthrop’s major suggestion for waging the war on terrorism was to attack what he called “soft spots” in Islamic faith that might “induce a deteriorating cascade effect upon the target.” That is, to discredit Islam itself and cause Muslims to abandon their religion. “Critical vulnerabilities of the Koran, for example, are that it was uttered by a mortal,” he said. Alas, he lamented, he faced the bureaucratic obstacle of official Washington’s “political taboo of linking Islamic violence to the religion of Islam,” according to the website.
Back then, however, Gawthrop didn’t work for the FBI. He had recently stepped down from a position with the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity. That agency came under withering criticism during the Bush administration for keeping a database about threats to military bases that included reports on peaceful antiwar protesters and dovish Church groups. It is unclear how Gawthrop came to work for the FBI.
Through an intermediary, Gawthrop told Danger Room that he was unavailable for comment before our deadline.
‘Instead of looking for indicators of nefarious behavior, you have a sweeping generalization.’
The FBI didn’t always conflate terrorism with Islam. “I never saw that,” says Ali Soufan, one of the FBI’s most distinguished counterterrorism agents and author of the new memoir The Black Banners, who retired from the bureau in 2005. “Sometimes, toward the end of my time, I started noticing it with different entities outside the FBI. You started feeling like they had a problem with Islam-as-Islam, because of the media. But that was a few people, and was usually hidden behind closed doors.”
Soufan, a Muslim, has interrogated members of al-Qaida and contributed to rolling up one of its cells in Yemen after 9/11. But by the logic of the FBI’s training materials, Soufan’s religious practices make him a potential terrorist.
McFadden, the former NCIS counterterrorist, has a lot of respect for his FBI colleagues, who he believes are ill-served by these Islam briefings. “These are earnest special agents and police officers who want to know how do their job better,” McFadden says.
Too often, McFadden says, counterterrorism training becomes simultaneously over-broad and ignorant. “Instead of looking for indicators of nefarious behavior, you have a sweeping generalization of things like, for instance, the Hawala system,” McFadden explains. “It’s a system that most of the developing world and expatriates from it use to move money around, including terrorists. But you can’t say the whole hawala system is about terrorism, just like you can’t say that Islam as a whole has anything to do with bad behavior.”
McFadden, a Catholic, believes that obsessing over obscure Koranic verses is as useful a guide to terrorist behavior as “diving into the rite of exorcism” is to understanding Catholicism.
On April 6, barely two weeks after the “Islamic Motivations for ‘Suicide’ Bombers” briefing at Quantico, FBI Director Robert Mueller defended the bureau’s budget before a congressional committee. Among his major points: the FBI needs cooperation from American Muslims to stop the next terrorist attack.
“Since September 11th, every one of our 56 field offices and the leadership of those offices have had outreach to the Muslim community,” Mueller said. “We need the support of that community … our business is basically relationships.” That is exactly the opposite message sent in the training rooms of Quantico, where the next generation of FBI counterterrorism is shaped.
Photos: Flickr/Cliff1066, ISAF