MPAC's Letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller Asking for Explanation on Islamophobic Trainings
September 15, 2011
Dear Director Robert Mueller:
On behalf of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, I am writing to you about an issue of mutual interest and great concern to our communities and the nation at large. For more than 20 years, our organization has built relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, and produced policy reports on countering violent extremism.
Recently, it has come to our attention that until a few months ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has continued to employ questionable individuals falsely claiming to be experts in Islam and Muslims and providing inaccurate and incendiary training to our nation’s top law enforcement officials.
In an article published in a widely read national security report, “FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims are ‘Violent, Radical,’” individuals contracted by the FBI are teaching counterterrorism agents that mainstream Muslim Americans are likely to be terrorist sympathizers, that the Prophet Muhammad was a violent cult leader and the Islamic practice of charity is really a disguised means to funding violence.
We conducted an assessment of the counterterrorism materials that were posted along with the article. We were greatly concerned. Our analysis found:
- Highly selective use of quotes and sources from Islamic scripture; and,
- Dangerously false and reductive presentation of one of the most vibrant and visible faith communities in America.
In addition, we find such material to be problematic because it is ineffective and counterproductive to our national security. At best, this provides extremely misleading and useless information to frontline agents by providing them unreliable indicators of potential criminal activity. At worst, this information comes from the same cottage industry of individuals who were the intellectual enablers for Oslo shooter, Anders Breivik. William Gawthrop, the author of these problematic materials has spoken at events alongside discredited individuals such as Walid Shoebat and Robert Spencer.
Muslim Americans have been on the frontlines to keeping our nation safe and secure from terrorism. As you rightly pointed out in a 2002 speech, “many in the American Muslim community have come forward to support the FBI in very visible ways…”According to our “Post-9/11 Terrorism Incident Database,” nearly 2 out of every 5 al Qaeda related plots threatening the American homeland since the September 11 attacks, have been foiled due to the tips provided by Muslim communities.
Therefore, we are asking for an immediate internal investigation into this matter and reassessment of the vetting process of trainers. Our communities need an answer from our nation’s top law enforcement leaders; silence on this issue only sends a message of complicity and ruins critical partnerships that have proven effective in keeping our nation safe and secure.
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