FBI Using Anti-Muslim Literature To Train Counterterroism Agents

The FBI has been using some odd materials to train its counterterrorism agents.

Spencer Ackerman is out with what strikes me as being a disturbing report about the training being given to FBI agents regarding radical Islamic terrorism:

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.”

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.”


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.

Many counterterrorism experts who’ve worked in or with the FBI aren’t at all impressed with the effectiveness of these materials, or their usefulness. One expert called it the equivalent of trying to teach someone about the Catholic Church by starting with exorcisms. More importantly, though, they are concerned that training like this reduces the ability of agents to detect actual terrorism:

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.”


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.

Reading through some of this material, such as one document [PDF] called “Militancy Considerations,” one almost begins to think that they were prepared by the likes of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, or any one of the other Anti-Muslim writers who have sprung up over the past ten years. Well, it turns out that you wouldn’t be very far off with that thought:

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,”

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.according to the website.

Relying on someone who advocates what can only be described as Holy War against Islam and was quoted as a source by one of the nuttiest websites of the wingnut blogosphere doesn’t strike me as effective law enforcement training, As the experts quoted above note, the training materials really don’t seem to contain anything that helps law enforcement understand and stop actual terrorism. Instead, it tells them that all of Islam is the enemy, which may explain why part of the FBI’s counterterrorism strategy has been to send agents into Islamic community centers and mosques. While there’s a value in obtaining information from these sources, it’s typically been the case that the most useful information has come from other Muslims who overheard things. For the most part, it seems like all the FBI’s surveillance has accomplished is catching potential terrorists who got caught up in sting operations, such as last year’s arrest of a man who thought he was plotting with al Qaeda to attack stations in Washington, D.C’s Metro system, or the man who thought he was helping with a plot to attack a Christmas festival in Oregon. As I noted at the time of the second arrest, there’s a legitimate question of whether these kind of arrests actually stop a terrorist, or whether they’re a case of entrapment.

One of the FBI’s most successful counterterrorism agents has a unique perspective on the program that Ackerman writes about:

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.

In the years after the September 11th attacks, George W. Bush sought to make it clear that the United States was not at war with the Islamic faith, but with terrorists who were using their religious faith to justify a murderous agenda. It was the right thing for him to do, particularly since taking the opposite position would have been so easy under the circumstances, Indeed, Bush was roundly criticized for those comments and the Geller’s, Spencer’s, and Larry Kudlow’s of the world have spent a good part of the last ten years trying, with unfortunate success, to make the anti-Muslim meme the dominant one among conservatives. The fact that such an ideology has seeped into the FBI, though, is pretty troubling.

Ackerman was on Rachel Maddow’s show discussing his story last night, the segment is worth viewing:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And here’s an interesting follow-up segment with NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, National Security, Religion, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jay Tea says:

    Let’s see… I’d say that pretty much all those allegations can be backed up by citations from the Koran and, if necessary, the Hadiths. And making nice with potentially “moderate” Muslims has such a stunning record of success — the Pentagon brought Anwar Al-Awlaki in for consultations right after 9/11, and Major Hassan was serially promoted until he had his attack of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome. Plus, toss in all the groups connected with the Holy Land Foundation who raised money for terrorist groups under the most benign names they could imagine… sounds like someone in the FBI was a bit too honest for some folks’ taste.

    But I do quibble with one aspect of it. When discussing Islam, they should have tossed in “founded by a pedophile.”


  2. legion says:

    @Jay Tea: I’d bet a lot of those statements can also be reproduced from quoting the Bible, as well. Especially the Old Testament. A lot of early Catholic dogma too. The problem with religious extremism is the “extremist” part, not the particular religion.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    @legion: Oh, absolutely, legion. Hell, I could probably cite you a few you don’t know about.

    You wanna show me where in the world a significant number of people are still following those teachings, and in the process racking up several thousand (at a minimum) deaths a year while carrying them out? Or are you happy to just rest your laurels on having pulled off an utterly pointless tu quoque?


  4. MM says:

    @Jay Tea: Says the guy who just moved the goal posts.

  5. Jay Tea says:

    @MM: I’m sorry, I missed the news when militant Catholics started blowing up movie theaters showing “The Da Vinci Code.” Or all those Jews who burned down places showing “The Passion Of The Christ.” Throw me a link or two?


  6. Rob in CT says:

    And making nice with potentially “moderate” Muslims has such a stunning record of success

    Is it seriously your contention that the best counter-terrorism practice is to assume that all Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers?

  7. Jay Tea says:

    @Rob in CT: Of course not. But it’s insane to keep saying that it’s only an insignificant minority of Muslims that are the real problem. And did you notice my mentions of Anwar Al-Awlaki and Major Nidal Hassan, who were treated as experts in the field of Muslim outreach?


  8. PD Shaw says:

    Lets not tar everybody with the same brush:

    Ilya Sobolevskiy, a 25-year-old resident of Maryland, was sentenced today to serve 12 months in prison and to pay a $3,000 fine for violating the civil rights of members of an Urbana, Illinois mosque, announced the Justice Department.

    During a guilty plea hearing in August 2010, Sobolevskiy admitted that he sent an e-mail to a member of the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center (CIMIC), in which he threatened, among other things, that he would “do WHATEVER it takes to eradicate Islam.” Officials at CIMIC reported the threat to the FBI, which referred the case to the department’s Civil Rights Division.

    “One of our most basic rights is the freedom to practice one’s faith in peace,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division. “We have no tolerance for threats of violence fueled by bigotry, and we will aggressively prosecute such actions.”

    It is a top priority of the FBI to protect the civil rights of the American people. We encourage members of the community to report all allegations of civil rights violations. The FBI will aggressively investigate these matters to ensure that our society remains free,” said Stuart R. McArthur, special agent in charge of the FBI Springfield Office.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    @PD Shaw: Fricking dumbass. Guy got what he deserved.

    Now if we can just see that kind of zealous rigor applied to others who espouse much the same, from the other direction…


  10. legion says:

    @Jay Tea: I’d offer up the systematic and organizationally-endorsed violation of state and national laws all across the US and Europe (and probably everywhere else, too) regarding the handling & reporting of child molestation perpetrated by the Catholic Church. That’s still going on today, but nobody in the actual power structure seems to give a damn about policing their own, any more than the rulers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, or wherever else do about keeping their own lunatics in check.

    The problem, ultimately, is crazy mofos who want to murder people who have different opinions. If you really think eliminating a particular religion will magically make the crazy bastards go sane, you’re as crazy as they are.

  11. Jay Tea says:

    @legion: One major flaw in your analogy, legion: as you noted, the Catholic Church covered it up for decades. That says they were ashamed of it and knew it was wrong. The Jihadists are exceptionally proud of their atrocities, and supply religious citations to back it up.

    Tell you what: find me a major Catholic figure talking about how priests sodomizing altar boys was a sacrament, and how the Bible says it was not only OK but a blessing, and I’ll apologize and withdraw my objections. Fair enough?


  12. @Jay Tea: The main problem with your assertions is that they ignore the fact that hundreds of millions of persons adhere to the Muslim faith and are not radicals. If your position was accurate, then the West would have a heckuva a problem with places like Turkey, India and Indonesia. And yet we don’t.

  13. Rob in CT says:

    @Jay Tea:

    No, I saw your references. Any strategy, even good ones, can have failures.

    You attack the idea of an “insignificant minority” – well, I guess that depends on what you think is insignificant. 1.5B Muslims on the planet. 1% would be 15 million, which is both (to me) an insignificant percentage and a shitload of people.

    Jay, seriously now: what *is* your preferred strategy? Are you backing this:

    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.


  14. Once again, Jay shows that when the Tea Party talks about limited government, what they really mean is “I should be able to do whatever I want. Everyone else gets the boot to the neck treatment.”

  15. legion says:

    @Jay Tea:

    That says they were ashamed of it and knew it was wrong.

    No it doesn’t – it shows they knew they’d face penalties if they got caught – there’s a big difference. Rhetoric-spouting jackasses in Islamic countries are no more (or less) threatening than Pat Robertson or the Westboro Baptist jackasses we have here. Show me 1.5 bn people actually trying to kill us. Here, in America (rather than in their own countries). Then we can talk about whether or not ‘x’ is a ‘terrorist religion’.

  16. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If your position was accurate, then the West would have a heckuva a problem with places like Turkey, India and Indonesia.

    Well, Turkey is on its way to starting a war with Israel and (hopefully) therefore out of NATO, thanks to Muslim extremists. India has a lot of Muslims, but it’s 80% Hindu to 13% Muslims — and India has a significant problem with Muslim terrorists. But I’ll grant you Indonesia – and counter with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Iran…


  17. Jay Tea says:

    @legion: And there aren’t penalties for terrorism? Where was there a single defense of the Catholic Church, even after exposed, that it was no big deal and not really that wrong? I mean, even Roman Polanski — who drugged and anally raped a 13-year-old girl — had his defenders.

    I was harsh on the Catholic Church over that scandal, and am still ripshit that Bernard Cardinal Law has a church in Rome and helped elect the current Pope instead of spending time in a US prison, but even I won’t equate that mess with terrorism. It just don’t wash.


  18. @Jay Tea:

    1) Turkey and Israel are hardly about to go to war, and the issue if not muslim extremism.

    2) Even the problematic cases you name are not problematic because of al Qaeda type Muslim extremism.

  19. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Turkey is threatening to send its Navy to escort the next blockade-running convoy to Gaza to fend off Israeli ships, and has changed its (US-built) fighters’ IFF systems to identify Israeli aircraft as hostile. That’s war prep to me.

    And I would say that a lot of India’s terrorist problem is pretty much Al Qaeda-style attacks, while Syria is a sponsor of terrorism — most notably in Lebanon, but in other places, too.


  20. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: They covered it up — and then they made one of the guys in charge of the coverup the pope. Sure, they tried to keep it quiet. That doesn’t say they were ashamed of it anymore than a drug cartel launders its cash because its “ashamed” of where it comes from. They do it because they know there are consequences if they’re caught and they don’t want to pay them.

  21. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: Ah, the fierce attack lapdog strikes. Let me make it clear: the radical Islamists are PROUD of their deeds, and boast of them. The Catholics tried to hide it as best they could. And not a single Catholic official defended the matter. Downplayed, denied, covered up, concealed, but never bragged about it.

    I understand how you don’t understand such distinctions, but I hope others reading this will.

    Back to your kennel, lickspittle.


  22. @Jay Tea: You know, I must confess, I find the following (which I have noticed for some time) to be neither impressive nor clever (and really, rather childish):

    Back to your kennel, lickspittle.

    Granted, you are free to keep using it.

  23. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: I’m sure all the little boys raped by priests who where then protected and hidden from the law by the church feel better knowing that high officials felt bad enough to cover it up.

    I guess you must be a fan of the Mafia, too. They do their best to conceal their criminal activities.

  24. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If you follow WR’s comments, you might understand why I think he’s really not worth more than such a comment — and I reserve it just for him.. I haven’t seen such concentrated ignorance, hyperpartisanship, and delusions of adequacy since… well, “Spurwing Plover.”

    Also, I do try to gauge my tone to the person I’m conversing with. You’re the host, so you automatically get your due respect. Others, I meet their antagonism with antagonism. WR, though… contemptuous dismissal seems a bit better than he deserves, but there’s only so low I will go on others’ blogs.


  25. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: Get back to me when the Catholic church or the Mafia starts running up an annual body count in four to five figures, lapdog. Maybe if you included the Mexican drug cartels, using those weapons the Obama administration gave them, you might have something resembling a fair comparison, but not even you could be stupid enough to go there.


  26. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jay Tea: What it boils down to Jay is that we refuse to live in the fear to which you have surrendered. And we won’t be dragged down by it, however much you might desire us all to live cowering in the shadows. We don’t fear Islam: we embrace it as a peaceful religion compatible with the American way of life. We will never accept subjecting a religion to systematic persecution, discrimination and suspicion. Muslims are our neighbors, our friends, our teachers and our students. They belong here as much as anyone and we will always welcome them. Your ideas won’t find much fertile soil here.

  27. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Guess I get under your skin. Sorry I won’t let you get away with lying, obfuscating, changing the subject and simply quoting Rush et al. I can see why that upsets you. I suppose that pretending you feel superior to me makes you feel a little better, so have fun.

  28. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: I have navel lint superior to you. And quoting Rush? Sorry, more of a Genesis fan. Although I do tend to use a certain lyric of Kris Kristofferson a bit overmuch, I’m told.

    Let me sum up your style: ad hominem attacks, very occasionally interrupted by what you laughingly think is a winning argument that is almost always utterly pointless. For example, your assertions above that pedophile priests and Mafia gangsters are at least a big a threat as Islamists. I tell you “back to your kennel, lickspittle” because you’re nothing more than a yapping lapdog who waits for others to make a stand, then you pile on and pretend you’re the alpha dog.

    Years ago, I heard a wonderfully dismissive term for guttersnipes like you — “what a waste of skin.” But you’re not even worth that contemptuous gesture.

    So, go ahead. Tell us how pedophile priests and Mafia gangsters kill more people every year than Islamists. I’d be fascinated to hear you expound on how they’re worse — or at least as bad — as the Islamists.


  29. An Interested Party says:

    Simply because some people don’t like the analogy between pedophile priests and Islamist terrorists doesn’t mean the analogy doesn’t work…if we are going to take the actions of Islamist terrorists as being representative of the entire religion of Islam, we can do the same with pedophile priests and the Catholic Church…or even the Westboro loons and Baptists…I’m sure plenty of other examples are available…

  30. Jay Tea says:

    @An Interested Party: So, can I lump you in with Democratic Underground, Code Pink, and Michael Moore, just to name a few prominent leftists?


  31. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jay Tea: You already do, so that’s not much of a threat.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    @Ben Wolf: Quite so…

  33. Jay Tea says:

    @Ben Wolf: I really don’t. Those people are the hard-core crazies on the left. WR strikes me as former DUer who was kicked out for being too stupid even for them, but that’s about it.


  34. matt says:

    @Jay Tea: Orange Volunteers
    Ulster VOlunteer force
    Loyalist VOlunteer force

    National Liberation Front of Tripura
    Manmasi National Christian Army
    Lord’s Resistance Army

    @Jay Tea: Here in the good ol USA we still have the KKK which was a protestant white supremacist group that equally hated jews and Catholics along with blacks.

    The Knights Party has been pretty quiet these days
    The ARmy of God has been quite active still
    There’s a ton of various Christian Patriot movements too including the Lambs of Christ and the group called the Concerned Christians (deported from Isreal on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks).
    I still consider the Hutaree to of been somewhat of a problem too

    Surely you’re familiar with the Christian identity movement which includes such wonderful actors such as the Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Army of God, Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord.


    @Steven L. Taylor: Actually there are BILLIONS of Muslims adhering to the Islamic faith second only to Christianity (which is ahead by maybe a billion followers).

  35. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Wow, it’s kind of sad to see you melting down into incoherent bleatings and wannabe insults that a sixth-grader would find lame. “A waste of skin.” Yeah, that’s big in middle skin – nicely played, sage!

    And of course the real point is for your big hissy fit to hide the fact that you’re moving the goalposts, and now we’re all saying that pedophile priests are exactly the same as terrorists, when that wasn’t anywhere near the moron point you were trying to make when you first started blathering about this. Love to see you quote me saying that “pedophile priests are as big a threat as terrorists.” Don’t worry, take your time. Read the whole thread over. Study it carefully. Maybe if you pick out a word from one comment and a couple more words from another you can piece it together. You know, lie. For a change.

    There’s good news, though, JT. I’m sure Jan thinks you’re the big winner here. And maybe Bithead. You can feel all big and strong if you think about them. And I’m sure if you say enough really, really mean things about me, you can get out from under your bed for a little while.

  36. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: More hilarity from Jay. Somehow he thinks it’s a killing insult to compare someone to the single most successful documentary filmmaker in the history of the artform.

    Oh, but Michelle Malkin says he’s icky. So that’s all Jay knows.

  37. An Interested Party says:

    …you can get out from under your bed for a little while.

    This is what these people who are just so terrified of all those scary Muslims and their religion seem to be projecting…

  38. anjin-san says:

    I’m sorry, I missed the news when militant Catholics started blowing up movie theaters showing “The Da Vinci Code.

    Did you miss the part where the US started a war with Iraq that resulted in the deaths of, at a very minimum, tens of thousands of innocents in that country? How is the search for WMD coming along?

    You abject terror of Muslims is just pathetic. If you were not such a dick, I would feel a little sorry for you living your life as a coward. As it is, I can only say that some of the finest people I have ever met are devout Muslims, and I would throw your ass under the bus in a hot city minute to save them.

  39. MarkedMan says:

    OK, how about the priests and ministers who every freaking week spew vile invective and lies against those who work at planned parenthood, or the extremists who get worked up by it and bomb the clinics and kill the people working there? Or Timothy McVeigh who at least occasionally claimed that he was acting on behalf of Christian beliefs? Or the Christian religious extremist Eric Rudolph who bombed at least one gay bar and seems likely to have been the one who attempted to bomb an innocent crowd at the Olympics (Thank you Richard Jewel). And the good people of North Carolina who hid him and fed him for years because he did it in the name of Christ? Or the priests who stood on the tanks and blessed the Serbian troops as they rode off to kill and rape men women and babies? I know, I know, there are ‘explanations’ for why it doesn’t count when it’s a Christian.

  40. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: WR, just because you can’t understand something doesn’t make it incoherent. In fact, it often means just the opposite.


  41. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: I dunno why you’re trotting out the resumption of the 1991 Iraq War after Saddam violated the terms of surrender, but the Catholic Church was not too happy about that. Oh, unless you’re resorting to the “my side’s losing, so let’s go to the ‘Bush lied, people died’ argument” again. Sorry, not interested in playing.


  42. Jay Tea says:

    @MarkedMan: Again, it’s a matter of priorities. Yes, as you noted, those are bad things. But they don’t annually rack up four to five figures worth of corpses every year.


  43. Jay Tea says:

    Having slept on the matter, I find myself reconsidering the matter. I still think that the presented materials are accurate, but I wonder if it’s effective.

    I can see them as part of an overall presentation, but as a way to effectively combat militant Islam? In and of itself? Not such a great idea. It’s important to understand the mentality of the enemy, but it would also be useful to understand how to distinguish the dangerous ones from the not-dangerous-now ones.

    But again, I bring up the examples of Anwar Al-Awlaki and Major Hassan — two men who were considered experts on Muslim outreach and consulted on the matter.


  44. Ben Wolf says:

    @An Interested Party: It’s more than projection. Those who indulge in “they’re coming to get us” thinking also fantasize about being the lone hero standing on the hill, holding off the hordes with their rifles while the timid liberals hide in the forests. In their warped imaginations, once White-Republican-Conservative-Superman has single-handedly defeated the brown swine he’ll boldly march down to the pussy liberals and gloat over their need for him, then have his choice of the liberal women who have for the first time encountered a “real man”.
    There’s always an element of grandiosity to their thinking.

  45. Rob in CT says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Finally, a glimmer of sanity.

    I still think you are painting with entirely too broad a brush (especially with regard to Muslims here in the US), but you have finally analyzed this somewhat rationally: the question is not “is Islam bad?” the question is “how best to defeat islamist terrorists?”

    The first question is rather pointless. As an agnostic (lean atheist), I don’t much care for any organized religion. Islam (the youngest of the three rather violent Abrahamic faiths) currently has some strains within it that encourage nihilistic violence, and that has to be countered.

    You do not counter it by attempting to convince over a billion people their religion is bad. That’s just dumb, and isn’t going to work. No more than evangelical atheists are going to convince Christians that their religion is wrong (note: I am not drawing an equivalence between the levels of violence presently between Christianity and Islam. Historically, they’re both blood-soaked, but right now Islam has more of a violence problem).

  46. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    1) Turkey and Israel are hardly about to go to war, and the issue i[s] not muslim extremism.

    You’re totally right of course. But JayTea’s use of this points to the broader issue at play in these sorts of documents — the idea that with Islam religious affiliation trumps all other factors. In the minds of many, any religious “minority” is always, first and foremost, united by religion and beholden to religion.

    Romney is a Mormon first and an American second in the same way that people worried that Kennedy would be beholden to the pope.

    Thus, in the minds of many a Pakistani, an Indonesian, and an individual from Deerborn Michigan must be exactly the same because they are all of the same religion and the practice of that religion must be the same in all there locations.

    What’s also ironic about this view is that the people who espouse it often point to the lack of a “reformation” in Islam. Yet their view of Islam denies the possibility that any sort of reformed practice could even take place.

  47. mattb says:

    @PD Shaw: Along the lines of not painting with a broad brush, I immediately thought about this NPR report about how far the Miami FBI branch has come in it’s relations with the Islamic community:


  48. mattb says:

    @Jay Tea:

    But again, I bring up the examples of Anwar Al-Awlaki and Major Hassan — two men who were considered experts on Muslim outreach and consulted on the matter.

    I can’t speak for the case of Anwar Al-Awlaki, but I’d love to understand why you are suggesting that Hassan was specifically considered an “expert” on Muslim outreach. I realize that he did give a presenation on the the topic in his final year of residency. This is a really standard practice and in no way should be mistaken for being a “consulted effort.”

    In other words, it’s like martial arts instructors who give a short 1hr workshop on an army base or with a police force and then claim that they “trained” army rangers or swat teams.

  49. anjin-san says:

    Sorry, not interested in playing.

    Understandable, since you clearly do not hold even a single card…

    But as fantasies go,

    resumption of the 1991 Iraq War after Saddam violated the terms of surrender

    is a pretty good one.

  50. Jay Tea says:

    @mattb: OK, agreed, Major Hassan didn’t put himself out as an “expert” in Islam — but he was tapped to give presentations on Islam to his fellow officers. The presumption behind such requests is “this person knows more than the rest of us, and can help us learn more about this.” But the underlying presumption is “this person is interested in helping us.” The FBI will, occasionally, talk to gangsters for information — but they go for retired gangsters, reformed gangsters, or gangsters who are enemies of the ones they currently want. They don’t go to members of the gang or their allies for advice on how to properly deal with them and take them down.

    Hassan turned out to be exactly the kind of Muslim that we needed to watch out for.


  51. Rob in CT says:

    So Muslims serving in the US armed forces should be looked upon as mafiosos? Suspected of being terrorists or terrorists sympathizers, as a general rule?

    Hassan apparently said a number of things that should’ve tipped people off. I expect, in future, people to be more responsive to such utterings.

    That’s what this post was about though, remember?

    From Spencer Ackermann, via Andrew Sullivan:

    The best strategy for undermining militants, Gawthrop suggested, is to go after Islam itself. To undermine the validity of key Islamic scriptures and key Muslim leaders.

    “If you remember Star Wars, that ventilation shaft that goes down to into the depths of the Death Star, they shot a torpedo down there. That’s a critical vulnerability,” Gawthrop told his audience. Then he waved a laser pointer at his projected PowerPoint slide, calling attention to the words “Holy Texts” and “Clerics.”

    “We should be looking at, should be aiming at, these,” Gawthrop said.

    Do you think that’s good strategy, Jay?

  52. mattb says:

    @Jay Tea:

    he was tapped to give presentations on Islam to his fellow officers. The presumption behind such requests is “this person knows more than the rest of us, and can help us learn more about this.” …

    You are overplaying that single presentation to the extreme. More importantly, I just realized your getting the fundamental facts wrong. You’ve conveniently missing the fact that Hassan was not asked to talk on Islam. He was supposed to present on a medical topic:

    As a senior-year psychiatric resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan was supposed to make a presentation on a medical topic of his choosing as a culminating exercise of the residency program.

    Instead, in late June 2007, he stood before his supervisors and about 25 other mental health staff members and lectured on Islam, suicide bombers and threats the military could encounter from Muslims conflicted about fighting in the Muslim countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a copy of the presentation obtained by The Washington Post.

    source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/09/AR2009110903618.html?hpid=topnews

    But even so let me just address one other thing:

    Hassan turned out to be exactly the kind of Muslim that we needed to watch out for.

    I would argue that Hassan’s dangerousness had far less to do with him being a Muslin and far more to do with his extreme mental instability (as has been the case with numerous individuals who have acted alone an staged these types of attacks).