September 23, 2011
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Spencer Ackerman’s reports on Islamophobic training sessions at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have sent the Bureau into damage control mode. On Thursday, the FBI held a conference call with Muslim civil rights groups to apologize for the offensive training materials, which Ackerman has published over the past week.
The FBI has promised a “comprehensive review of all training and reference materials,” but Ackerman, in an article published today, reveals that the work of well-known Islamophobes permeates the FBI’s training culture and the internal reference resources available to FBI agents.
Ackerman reports that the mandatory online orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), included the following description of Sunni Muslims:
Sunni Muslims have been prolific in spawning numerous and varied fundamentalist extremist terrorist organizations. Sunni core doctrine and end state have remained the same and they continue to strive for Sunni Islamic domination of the world to prove a key Quranic assertion that no system of government or religion on earth can match the Quran’s purity and effectiveness for paving the road to God.
An examination of the FBI’s library in Quantico, which is not open to the public, revealed that the Bureau stocks a wide range of resources on Islam but includes a number of books by well known anti-Islam authors Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer.
Pipes and Spencer are featured prominently in the Center for American Progress’ new report, “ Fear, Inc.,” which outlines the small but influential group of individuals and institutions who help promote anti-Muslim hatred in the U.S.
Spencer, who claims that “Islam is not a religion of peace” and has suggested that President Obama may be a Muslim, gained notoriety after it was revealed that Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik’s manifesto included 162 references to Spencer and his blog Jihad Watch.
Pipes famously observed that “all immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.” He also plays a key role in the Islamophobia echo chamber by repeating the falsehood that Obama is a former Muslim who “practiced Islam.”
The combination of Islamophobic presentation and the FBI’s apparent endorsement of noted anti-Muslim “experts” like Spencer and Pipes raises serious questions about the FBI’s counterterrorism training and the Bureau’s understanding of Muslim Americans.
Earlier this month, the Seattle Times reported on a disastrous presentation by an FBI agent at a community outreach workshop. The failed presentation offers insights into how federal law enforcement officers’ training has seriously hampered their ability to engage with Muslim communities.