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FBI Purges Anti-Islam Materials

Published: 16/02/2012 01:18:21 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Amid an outcry over using Islamophobic materials in training its officers, the FBI has purged hundreds of documents offensive to Muslims and their faith. It's a bit hard to avoid the conclusion there isn't a proble (more)

CAIRO - Amid an outcry over using Islamophobic materials in training its officers, the FBI has purged hundreds of documents offensive to Muslims and their faith.

"It's a bit hard to avoid the conclusion there isn't a problem of culture in the [FBI] training division," Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab-American Institute, told Danger Room magazine.

"It's one that appears to have some built-in biases when it comes to the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities."

An internal investigation has purged hundreds of Islamophbic materials used by the FBI in training its officers.

The announcement came during a meeting on Wednesday with several Arab and Muslim advocacy groups.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen said some of the documents were removed because they were "offensive" while others were "inaccurate" and "overbroad".

He, however, insisted that the purged documents represent "less than 1 percent" of the 160,000 reviewed in the inquiry.

The bureau cited four criteria for purging the documents; "factual errors", "poor taste", employment of "stereotypes" about Arabs or Muslims or presenting information that "lacked precision".

The FBI said it plans to publish a "touchstone document" which sets criteria for not using anti-Islam materials again in training officers.

The Justice Minister also plans next month to release "Cultural Competency" guidelines for dealing with Muslims and Arabs on anti-terror efforts.

Last September, Danger Room cited an FBI training material which described Muslims as "terrorist sympathizers", who turn into violent people once they become pious.

It also described Islam as an indicator of terrorist activity and that the Muslim practice of giving charity as no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”

The White House ordered a government-wide review of counterterrorism training late last year.


Critics warn that the use of anti-Islam materials in training FBI officers gives ammunition to extremist and radical groups.

"People will report criminal activity to the authorities, that's been proven time and again," Salam al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told Danger Room.

"But if we are giving propaganda to al-Qaeda, resuscitating this dying ideology that al-Qaeda is promoting, by continually exposing anti-Muslim propaganda published by the government, that undermines our pluralism, which is the best defense against any transnational ideological threat."

Berry, the executive director of the Arab-American Institute, believes that the FBI has a "systematic" problem in using Islamophobic training materials.

She said she could "see the seriousness with which [the FBI] has approached this."

"They've never owned this problem. It's not a problem of outside contractors,” Berry said.

"They're producing these kind of documents that inhibit our counterterrorism efforts. We need our communities engaged, and these have done nothing but alienate us."

This is not the first time the FBI used anti-Muslim materials in training its counterterrorism agents.

In July, the FBI used training materials that claim Islam “transforms [a] country's culture into 7th-century Arabian ways”.

In May, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest Muslim advocacy group, called on the Home Security to investigate the use of foreign trainers who offer hostile, stereotypical and inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam to the nation's security personnel.

Muslim relations with the FBI have been strained in recent years over the bureau's history of targeting members of their community.

In 2009, Muslim groups threatened to suspend all contacts with the FBI over sending informants into mosques.The infamous post-9/11 technique of sending spies to mosques has been stirring uproar in the US over entrapping young people, who posed no real threat to the US security.

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