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Poor Quality Powerpoint Presentation Used to Train FBI on Islam

FBI Confirms Book by Robert Spencer Since Dropped From Reading List

Wired magazine draws attention to an alarmingly poor Powerpoint presentation which was used to train the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit about Islam:

As recently as January 2009, the FBI thought its agents ought to know the following crucial information about Muslims:

  • They engage in a “circumcision ritual”
  • More than 9,000 of them are in the U.S. military
  • Their religion “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.”

Much of the presentation consists of what appears to be a random selection of assorted facts, and there’s a “recommended reading” page which lists eight titles: two are primary sources (the Koran and Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones); three are polemical anti-Islam books, including two by Robert Spencer (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Truth About Muhammad, along with Mark Gabriel’s Islam and Terrorism,); two are neutral sources (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries); and there is also a controversial academic book, Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind.

According to Wired:

A grainy copy of the PowerPoint was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California chapter and the Asian Law Caucus, a San Francisco-based civil rights group, and provided to Danger Room. The two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year inquiring about government surveillance of American Muslim communities.

“In order for FBI training to be effective it has to present useful, factual and unbiased information. This material fails on all three criteria,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who now works for the ACLU. 

The FBI has responded by saying that the Powerpoint was a “rudimentary” version which is no longer used and that it was “a small part of a larger segment of training”. And as for Robert Spencer’s The Truth About Muhammad in the reading list:

An FBI spokesman said Spencer’s book is no longer on the reading list but was not sure about the others. “We encourage our agents to seek out a variety of viewpoints. That does not mean we endorse or adopt the view of any particular author,” the bureau’s statement continues. 

The authorship of the Powerpoint presentation remains unknown, although Wired notes the existence of the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center, which “claims to have provided counterterrorism instruction to ‘FBI Counterterrorism Special Agents,’ various police departments countrywide and even Blackwater.”

Poor quality training on Islam and counter-terrorism is an issue which has come under increasing scrutiny of late. NPR ran a piece earlier this month, shortly after CNN investigated Walid Shoebat’s presence at a counter-terrorism training event in South Dakota.  Political Research Associates published report on the subject in November, a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, and from Ranking Member Susan Collins.

(H/T: Loonwatch)

13 Responses

  1. This is yet another prove that the United States or its agencies know little or nothing about other countries. Rather than delve into semantics, why don’t the FBI experts pay closer attention to the Koran and all its incitements against non muslims? This is what fuels all the killings and mayhem in the name of following the tenets of the koran. Simply put, it is an ideologically shifting religion especially in the hands of the ill educated ones who happens to be in the majority.

    • Given the level of your English, you are in no position to be making comments about the education of others… or anthing else, for that matter.

      • Perhaps the person does not have English as a first language? Additionally, WordPress does not allow editing of typos……

        If you are arguing that only people who can type impeccable English are allowed to express an opinion, you come across as a fucking Nazi, mate.

      • When someone writes something one disagrees with it can be tempting to make fun of poor English expression. However, it’s a temptation one should usually try to resist.

      • When someone makes a comment about the education of others, they should be sure of their own education.

        Also, “why don’t the FBI experts pay closer attention to the Koran and all its incitements against non muslims”. I piss on wilful ignorance and will not be civil.

        Have a nice day.

  2. I am always wary of anything from “Loonwatch” – their whole approach is so hysterically rabid, fully supported in their unmoderated comments section, it is hard to take them seriously when they are trying to be “serious.”

    Like Bob Pitt’s “Islamophobia Watch”, they exist to smear any critics of Islamism as “Islamophobes” or in their case, more insultingly, as “loons.” They copy and paste from other sources, but – unless they have changed their behaviour patterns – they never bother to seriously fact-check accounts when they smear individuals.

    There are some “loons” in the anti-islam sheep-pen, but demonising anyone who criticises Islamist groups serves to shut down debate, creates deliberate smears and serves as a smokescreen to allow groups that do support terrorism (Hamas-supporting bodies like CAIR) to flourish and set their own, highly biased, anti-Semitic agenda. (Flotilla-supporting self-hating Jews are tolerated as exceptions)

  3. Additionally Richard – you have somewhat swallowed the bait that has been laid before you by Loonwatch. It may seem (when atrociously copied in monochrome as a pdf) as a “poor quality powerpoint” presentation – but the purpose of such presentations is to serve as cue cards while someone lectures – the equivalent would be judging a lecture by the illustrations in the fliers for the lecture.

    This is for the FBI – and they are dealing with the problems of Islamic terrorism. They do not need to have some vacuous “Islam is peaceful and lovely” nonsense as they are dealing with terrorism.

    You may not like Robert Spencer, but what he highlights in his two books on the “Recommended reading” list are the same parts of Islamic texts that are used by Islamic terrorists to justify acts of terrorism. For that alone, the books are useful. What Spencer thinks about Islam in the real world today is something else.

    His knowledge of Hadiths and particular ayat is fairly extensive, and it is the negative examples of these that DO inspire terrorists.

    SImilarly, Qutb’s Milestones – also recommended – is full of re-appropriation of the same texts to justify his plans for Islamist domination, and they also were used by Qutb to justify his essays condemning Jews as filth.

    But Raphael Patai’s book on Understanding the Arab Mind – was only really criticised by Manning Marable – who claimed it was racist because Patai tried as a cultural anthropologist to explain Arab traditions. Anthropologists are always being accused of racist and un-PC stereotypes.

    The execrable Robert Fisk used his Independent column to savage a thoroughly decent Oxford don that I knew years ago – Mike Gilsenan, author of “Understanding Islam” – wrongly blaming him for introducing bizarre language into student essays. There was nothing in Mike’s work that smacked of any prejudices, but Fisk just wanted to attack him for what appear to have been personal reasons and rivalry.

    Really Richard – do you think Loonwatch gives a flying f*ck whether or not the FBI are able to identify the minority of extremists from the majority of peaceful Muslims?

    Of course not – they are just as much propaganda pushers as the people from the so-called “far right” (who are often hard left in their views).

    This is not a particularly well reasoned argument that Loonwatch has presented.

    What they are doing here – much like the way one Islamic Canadian commentator is attacking Mike Steyn because he was quoted four times in Breivik’s manifesto and blaming him for the Norway attacks – is looking for any old excuse to shut someone up whose views they despise. There is nothing newsworthy here, but Loonwatch is engagng in one of those uni buzzwords (not coined by Mike Gilsenan) – reification.

    i.e. – Making something from nothing.

    And Loonwatch never criticise groups like CAIR California, nor Ingrid Mattson of ISNA, who have urged Muslims NOT to cooperate with the FBI.

    This rfusal to cooperate with the FBI unless they get “concessions” is a typical Muslim Brotherhood tactic – Osama Saeed of the MAB urged Clydeside Muslims not to cooperate with Scottish police in 2006.

    While such groups urge non-cooperation, they are preventing decent peaceful Muslims from becoming members of the society in which they live.

    Loonwatch are morally dishonest in their presentations, and only using propaganda.

    You can do better than them, Richard. You are an excellent researcher. Please look at the history of Loonwatch and their postings……

    “Balanced journalism” does not feature in their propaganda screeds.

    • Most sites have agendas and limitations of which one should be mindful, but that doesn’t mean concerns they raise can therefore be dismissed. I don’t like Spencer’s approach, but that doesn’t mean there are no dangerous or unpleasant Islamic extremists. In this case, “Loonwatch” simply led me to the “Wired” article.

      Someone like Gilsenan would actually be a good recommendation for the reading list.

      • Mike Gilsenan’s work would be good for balance I believe, as he is a genuinely open-minded and tolerant person. I knew him in the 1980s when he lived above friends near Clissold Park, Hackney, and he had no pretensions or prejudices at all, as far as I could see. His “Understanding Islam” is a good book.

        However, the work of cultural anthropologists is hard to really introduce to FBI agents, as such studies generally relate to cultures “in situ” and do not really explain what the FBI would be likely to encounter in the US, other than in cultural “pockets” in the society.

        One would need to show how individuals from such cultures would be under particular pressures when translocated – there are some “Muslim diaspora” studies and books, but in practice these relate to studies of isolation and cultural breakdown, as happened to many Algerian and Tunisian families when they migrated to Paris – the older generation patriarchs became sidelined, and young streetwise males took over families and these became “deracinated” and on the edge. Such issues have led to the troubling social problems that led to Samira Belil’s autobiographical book “Dans l’Enfer des Tournantes” and the work of the national organisation “Ni Putes ni Soumises.”

        I think it is possible to write a solid thesis on how translocated individuals tend to socially congregate around mosques and Islamic groups that tend to present a view of a “unified Ummah” to people who do not feel fully integrated.

        Unfortunately, it is within extremist-leaning groups (and a few influential mosques that promote intolerant brands of Islam, such as Wahhabism or Deobandism or the Jamaat-e-Islami party doctrine) that such innocent desires to “belong” become exploited to develop contempt for the non-Muslim communities in the society beyond.

        Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood already know that exploiting the individual Muslim’s need to be part of an “Ummah” can be seen as a strategy to promote Islamism, as evidenced by the “Project” of Said Ramadan (written in December 1981, discovered in Youssef al-Nada’s home in Lugano in Nov. 2001) and also in the Arabic document found in the possession of Palestinian American Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Akram, dating from 1991.

        These two documents detail a deliberate strategy of getting involved in “community groups” and then when they have the ear of governments and other bodies, then highlighting the “Israel problem” as the “keystone” for the global mission to radicalise Muslims. They detail a practical strategy for implementing in the West the notion of the “vanguards” as described in Sayyid Qutb’s book “Milestones.”

  4. QUOTE: “When someone makes a comment about the education of others, they should be sure of their own education.”

    Did anyone here make such a comment? I missed that one…..

    QUOTE of a QUOTE: Also, “why don’t the FBI experts pay closer attention to the Koran and all its incitements against non muslims”.

    Hmm… that could allude to the rnumerous references to “unbelievers”, such as in Suras 2: 187 (Kill them wherever ye find them), or 47: 4, (When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads till ye have made a great slaughter among them, and of the rest make fast the fetters) and many more, but then again, justifiers of these verses often claim that those who get upset by these verses do not know Arabic, and if they did they would find something different……

    Or this sura, which is quoted frequently by Deobandi imams, such as Riyadh ul-Haq, former main imam of the Birmingham Central Mosque:

    Sura 5:51: “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. ”
    The Taliban leaders were all Deobandi-trained at the Haqqania madrassa on the Pakistani side of the Afpak border.

    But it is only among extremists and terrorists, who take such ridiculous verses literally, that these (unabrogated) passages become justifications for war and terrorism……

    QUOTE: “I piss on wilful ignorance and will not be civil.

    Have a nice day.”

    Well the first sentence seems typical of so many people in Britain today, claiming to be morally/intellectually/politically superior to others while acting like a (Swiiftian) Yahoo. The second sentence, which probably originated as a put-down once upon a time in an unentertaining US comedy show, is now used as a statement of triumphalism. Originally it would have followed a mortifying put-down, but here it only follows the petulant stampings of someone whose psychological development appears to be still stuck in the “Terrible Twos” stage of personality growth…..

  5. […] published a follow-up to its July report on poor quality “counter-terrorism” training at the FBI: At the Bureau’s […]

  6. […] Improper counter-terrorism training is a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny over the past year: a critical article appeared in the Washington Post last December, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, and from Ranking Member Susan Collins. A report by the progressive Political Research Associates also appeared in the spring, while the summer saw critical pieces on CNN and NPR, as well as Wired‘s first report. […]

  7. […] also appeared in last spring, while the summer saw critical pieces on CNN and NPR, as well as a report in Wired. Wired also ran a second piece in […]

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