DHS Crushed This Analyst for Warning About Far-Right Terror

Clearly the threat from Right-wing terrorists and other groups has been severely undercut by the overblown emphasis on so-called “Islamic terrorism,” a term that should be disputed in the first place!

This is a point we have been making for quite some time now, and this is buttressed by Spencer Ackerman’s recent article about the DHS crushing an analyst who warned about “Far-Right Terror.” (h/t: Avram)

DHS Crushed This Analyst for Warning About Far-Right Terror

by Spencer Ackerman (Wired.com)

Daryl Johnson had a sinking feeling when he started seeing TV reports on Sunday about a shooting in a Wisconsin temple. “I told my wife, ‘This is likely a hate crime perpetrated by a white supremacist who may have had military experience,’” Johnson recalls.

It was anything but a lucky guess on Johnson’s part. He spent 15 years studying domestic terrorist groups — particularly white supremacists and neo-Nazis — as a government counterterrorism analyst, the last six of them at the Department of Homeland Security. There, he even homebrewed his own database on far-right extremist groups on an Oracle platform, allowing his analysts to compile and sift reporting in the media and other law-enforcement agencies on radical and potentially violent groups.

But Johnson’s career took an unexpected turn in 2009, when an analysis he wrote on the rise of “Right-Wing Extremism” (.pdf) sparked a political controversy. Under pressure from conservatives, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) repudiated Johnson’s paper — an especially bitter pill for him to swallow now that Wade Michael Page, a suspected white supremacist, killed at least six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. For Johnson, the shooting was a reminder that the government’s counterterrorism efforts are almost exclusively focused on al-Qaida, even as non-Islamist groups threaten Americans domestically.

“DHS is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism, as is Congress,” Johnson tells Danger Room. “There’ve been no hearings about the rising white supremacist threat, but there’s been a long list of attacks over the last few years. But they still hold hearings about Muslim extremism. It’s out of balance.” But even if that balance was reset, he concedes, that doesn’t necessarily mean the feds could have found Page before Sunday’s rampage.

A Neo-Nazi rally in Washington D.C., August 2002. Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

Johnson left DHS in April 2010 after “they dissolved my team,” he says. Had he still been at DHS, he says he would have published an analysis calling attention to a growing number of attacks on mosques, which he thinks could serve as a “warning” to Sikh communities that are often mistaken for Muslim ones. But finding so-called “lone wolf” terrorists like Page is a challenge no matter their motivations, since they operate outside established extremist cells and often don’t have criminal records, making it difficult for law enforcement or homeland security officials to spot them.

Now a security consultant in the Washington D.C. area, Johnson used to work for DHS’ analysis shop, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). He supervised a team of six analysts studying what he calls “domestic non-Islamic extremism.” It’s a telling term: the DHS employed as many as 40 analysts who looked at al-Qaida and other jihadist groups’ inroads into the homeland.

Johnson ran everything else. One person on his team worked on the threat from anarchists; another, the threat from animal-rights extremists. Still others looked at anti-abortion radicalism, white supremacy and radical environmentalism. They were supplemented by analysts at the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; but outnumbered by the literally thousands of analysts, operatives and other counterterrorism officials throughout the government who focus on jihadism. “Salaries were our major budget item,” he recalls.

Then, in April 2009, Johnson warned that the election of the first African-American president, combined with recession-era economic anxieties, could fuel a rise in far-right violence. “DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities,” he wrote.

And so began a brief media firestorm. Conservative writers feared that the DHS was demonizing — even, potentially, criminalizing — mainstream right-wing speech. “It’s no small coincidence that [Secretary Janet] Napolitano’s agency disseminated the assessment just a week before the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests,” pundit Michelle Malkin speculated in the Washington Times. Others objected that Johnson’s report unfairly stigmatized veterans.

It surprised Johnson. An Eagle Scout leader from northern Virginia in his early 40s, Johnson became interested in counterterrorism in his teens, after an Arkansas standoff between federal authorities and a millenarian group called The Covenant The Sword And The Arm of The Lord, which stockpiled weapons and explosives to bring about Armageddon. “I was always fascinated with why people use religion to justify violence and believe the world was ending — and had a role to play in hastening that end,” Johnson said.

Stung, DHS responded by cutting “the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups,” the Washington Post reported in June 2009.

According to Johnson, his former team now consists of a single analyst tasked with tracking all domestic non-Islamic extremism. His database has been shuttered.

A Tea Party activist expresses his displeasure with Johnson’s 2009 report on the danger of far-right extremism.Photo: RBerteig/Flickr

Asked for comment, DHS disputed Johnson’s claim that it gives non-Islamic extremism short shrift.

“The Department of Homeland Security protects our country from all threats, whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence,” spokesman Matt Chandler told Danger Room. “we face a threat environment where violent extremism is neither constrained by international borders, nor limited to any single ideology. This is not a phenomenon restricted solely to any one particular community and our efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE) are applicable to all ideologically motivated violence. DHS continues to work with its state, local, tribal, territorial and private partners to prevent and protect against potential threats to the United States by focusing on preventing violence that is motivated by extreme ideological beliefs.”

Johnson, who has written a forthcoming book about far-right extremist groups, concedes that the definition of “right-wing” in his product was imprecise. In retrospect, he says he should have clarified that his focus was on “violent” right-wing organizations, like white supremacists, neo-Nazis and so-called Sovereign Citizens who believe the U.S. government is an illegitimate, tyrannical enterprise. Much like mainstream Muslims denounce terrorism and object to over-broad analysis portraying Islam as an incubator of extremism, so too do mainstream conservatives denounce neo-Nazis and white supremacists and dispute that those groups are authentically right-wing.

LW: I want to add that while I understand the intent of this last sentence it still is a very strange and objectionable juxtaposition. Why not say that that Conservatives “denounce terrorism” and “object to over-broad analysis” much like mainstream adherents to all religions reject the portrayal of their faiths as “incubators of terrorism.”

Nor does he think DHS should ignore Islamic extremism. “It just needs to be more balanced,” Johnson says. New York congressman “Peter King has held three hearings in the past year on Muslim extremism,” he says, referring to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, “but he’s yet to have a single hearing on right-wing extremism when there’s been a lot more activity.”

LW: Rep. Peter King has actually had 6 hearings on so-called “homegrown terrorism” threat from American Muslims.

Indeed, since Johnson released his ill-fated report, the Wichita, Kansas, abortion doctor George Tiller was assassinated; a security guard was killed when a gunman with neo-Nazi ties went on a shooting spree at the U.S. Holocaust Museum; the FBI arrested members of a Florida neo-Nazi outfit tied to drug dealing and motorcycle gangs; a man was charged with attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction at a Spokane, Washington march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; and several mosques around the country have been vandalized or attacked — including a Missouri mosque that burned to the ground on Monday, which had been attacked before.

As Salon recounts, the FBI has been warning for years that far-right racialist organizations might be interested in suicide terrorism. Peter Bergen, a longtime chronicler of al-Qaida, wrote on Tuesday that far-right domestic terrorism rivals and might eclipse the threat of homegrown jihadism.

In a press conference on Monday, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Teresa Carlson acknowledged that Page, the perpetrator of the Sikh temple assault, “had contact with law enforcement in the past,” but that contact didn’t rise to the level of sparking an active investigation. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks right-wing extremist groups, has apparently had Page on its radar for some time.

But Johnson doesn’t contend that more resources would necessarily have stopped Page from attacking the Sikh temple. Lone-wolf terrorists are hard to spot. What the government should do instead is broaden its counterterrorism focus beyond just jihadis. “It needs to be more balanced,” Johnson says. “It’s frustrating to see these types of incidents ongoing.”

Read the rest…

Is the U.S. Military “at war with Islam”?

 

Is the U.S. Military “at war with Islam”?

by Sheila Musaji (theamericanmuslim.org)
Here is the article that we previously posted on TAM on this issue:

The Currency of Words, or the Coin of the Realm?
by Mikey Weinstein

On Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, the nation’s top soldier, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) General Martin Dempsey, initiated a truly seminal message. He finally generated the long-overdue, mandatory edict that all training and educational materials throughout the U.S. military must be immediately reviewed within one month’s time to ensure that no anti-Muslim or anti-Islam references or content remain. Henceforth, officers and enlisted members will no longer be taught and institutionally indoctrinated that “the United States is at war with Islam and we ought to just recognize that.”

According to reports, this unprecedented top-down review is the result of a belated discovery at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) in Norfolk, VA.  In the elective class “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” officers from all four branches of the military were indoctrinated with vile Islamophobic programs masquerading as “anti-terrorist” education.  In June 2007, Islamophobic extremist and shady Lebanese fundamentalist Christian, Brigitte Gabriel, delivered a lecture before the JFSC where she stated that there is no such thing as a “moderate Muslim” and that “America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam.” According to reports, this lecture was presented “as part of the school’s Islam elective.” It is worth noting that Gabriel is a Southern Lebanese Maronite Christian expat and speaker with the pro-Israeli Likudnik Hasbara Fellowships, who has for decades made a career of grossly oversimplifying the contradictions inherent in Middle Eastern affairs as a problem of good people dominated by a monolithic Muslim threat.

In February 2008, self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist,” “ex-Muslim,” fundamentalist Christian minstrels Walid Shoebat, Zachariah Anani, and Kamal Saleem were paid $13,000 to speak before the 50th Annual Academy Assembly at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, CO on the topic of “Dismantling Terrorism: Developing Actionable Solutions for Today’s Plague of Violence.” At this USAFA conference, as confirmed by many eye witness accounts, Walid Shoebat disgustingly stated “We have to kill Islam.”

Like Brigitte Gabriel, these bigoted stooges have made lucrative careers for themselves by peddling over-the-top, pathologically prejudiced perspectives on understanding the Muslim and Arab world while selling their own fabricated histories as “reformed” terrorist caricatures. Amazingly, they all claim to have abandoned Islam and embraced fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity. To call this heinous crew of dubious characters “con-artists” would be far too kind. Our civil rights foundation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which represents approximately 10% of all Muslim American service members, responded by demanding equal time to counter these transparent frauds. This ultimatum resulted in speaking appearances at USAFA for MRFF Advisory Board Member and renowned Islam Scholar Reza Aslan, MRFF Board member and former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and myself, MRFF founder and President Mikey Weinstein.

What JCS Chairman Gen. Dempsey seeks to investigate is a heinous curriculum of systemic, anti-Muslim hatred that has warped the cultural competence of United Staes service members, leading to grim results in combat theaters within which the U.S. has been engaged since 9/11. In 2012 alone there have been reports of bodies being urinated on by U.S. Marines, the proud and brazen display of the Nazi Waffen-SS banner by U.S. Marines, soldiers posing with corpses, and most insultingly, the burning of copies of the Qur’an at Bagram Air Field. Most recently, the Beaufort, South Carolina-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) renamed themselves the “Crusaders” (a phrase which literally means “taking up the cross”) and adopted the iconography of the crusading, medieval Knights Templar. In a poor, strife-ridden nation such as Afghanistan, people have little to hold on to beyond strong familial and tribal bonds and a firm sense of national, ethnic, cultural and religious dignity. Sadly, racist and dehumanizing indoctrination by America’s own war machine has transformed all too many American war fighters into arrogant, marauding crusaders.

The long-overdue review of the appalling Islamophobic materials used to train our servicemen and servicewomen is a classic case of the proverbial closing of the barn door long after the farm animals have left. President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 starkly illustrated this fact. The ink had barely dried on the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by himself and Afghan President Hamid Karzai before car bombs and gunfire rattled Kabul in a daring Taliban attack centered on the high-security Green Village compound.  The faux triumphalism of Obama’s visit, meant to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the killing of archfiend Osama Bin Laden, was meant to prop up the illusion of impending “victory” in strife-torn Afghanistan. The foreboding warning of Rudyard Kipling presciently echoes through history and seemingly confounds present American efforts as it damned all others heretofore; “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires.”

Any casual observer with even a rudimentary understanding of modern military history understands how the Commander-in-Chief’s Kabul pep talk is in stark opposition with the gritty combat reality on the ground. Insurgent Taliban forces, in addition to wearing down the U.S. military in a steady process of attrition, are flat out winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Additionally, attacks on U.S./NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel by allied Afghan soldiers and police officers have been consistently on the rise despite deliberate and pernicious underreporting by NATO officials, with the deaths of 19 ISAF service members this year alone due to “fratricide-murder incidents”. In hindsight, the Department of Defense-sanctioned anti-Muslim training programs have proven to be a quintessentially formidable propaganda asset in the Taliban fight against the “Crusading” NATO forces. Indeed, they provide grist for the mill of regional resentment and strain alliances to a breaking point. Far be it from the graceful and idyllic exit strategy fabricated by the Pentagon and championed by Obama just days ago in Kabul, many of us anxiously anticipate an Afghan departure that, at best, will resemble the Soviets’ feckless abandonment of its puppet “allies” in 1988. At worst, the U.S. exit may yet resemble the humiliating, frenetic scramble to evacuate the U.S. embassy during the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the old adage “better late then never” still applies. Those who allowed for these egregious violations of DoD-sponsored Islamophobia to take place must face stern and swift discipline for their complicity in the dissemination of bigoted disinformation that has placed American lives at dire risk. It is too late to regain lost ground on the Afghan war front. By ordering this comprehensive review for “taught hatred,” General Dempsey is signaling that within the Department of Defense he is apparently and allegedly serious about defending Constitutionally-guaranteed American civil rights and values. The General so signals with the easy currency of words. It’s yet to be seen whether these mere words will be followed, as is rarely the case in these “religious” matters at the Pentagon, with the substantive and true coin of the realm; deeds.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein is president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He previously served as White House Counsel in the Reagan administration and general counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corp. He is the author of the recently released book, “No Snowflake in an Avalanche: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Its Battle to Defend the Constitution and One Family’s Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places” (2012, Vireo).  Source:  Alternet
UPDATE May 10, 2012

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) just sent this update after the information from Spencer Ackerman at Wired was released:

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation ( http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/ ) is disgusted by the shocking revelation that officers from all four branches of the U.S. Military were instructed at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) in Norfolk, VA, that the “option” of waging total war on civilian populations of the Muslim faith in a manner similar to the “historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki” should be openly embraced and explored. The suggestion that the norms of international humanitarian law, as enshrined by the Geneva Conventions of 1949, are no longer relevant is a reprehensible and criminal concept that has no place in U.S. military doctrine.

U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use ‘Hiroshima’ Tactics for ‘Total War’ on Islam: WIRED Danger Room, May 10, 2012: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/05/total-war-islam/

“We have now come to understand that there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam’…This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.”

Such phrases, as uttered by JFSC faculty member Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, constitute openly genocidal hate speech—the likes of which have led to some of the worst horrors in modern history. What is most troubling, however, is the fact that such abhorrent sentiments were allowed for years to permeate the lecture halls of the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) in Norfolk, VA (see below link for an Op-Ed on Anti-Muslim course content at JFSC, written on 5/08/12 by MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein). MRFF has long been aware of Islamophobic content taught at JFSC, including the use of pathologically bigoted and sectarian figures such as Walid Shoebat and Brigitte Gabriel, who were allowed to pass off their poisonous hatred as “expertise.” In spite of the recent cancellation of such content, as ordered by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. William Dempsey, the gravity of these new revelations makes one wonder how the culture within the U.S. military’s institutes of higher learning could become acclimated to such murderous concepts as the waging of total war against approximately 1.57 billion Muslim men, women, and children around the globe. Such sufficiently advanced incompetence is completely indistinguishable from willful malice.

MRFF calls on the Pentagon to expeditiously take concrete steps towards purging itself of exceptionalist, Christian supremacist, and sociopathic ideologies that have been allowed to bewitch influential figures within the highest echelons of military leadership. Firm countermeasures must be put in place to prevent the further propagation of criminal tactics and military strategies, as exemplified by the hypothetical destruction of Mecca and Medina (the paramount holy cities of the Muslim faith), and the reduction of Islam “to cult status” at the hands of a global “anti-Islamist” coalition bizarrely envisioned by JFSC faculty member Lt. Col. Dooley. Warped and racist perspectives which fail to distinguish between peaceful, civilian practitioners of religious faiths and the militant extremist adherents thereof must be decisively rooted out of U.S. military culture and academia. MRFF calls for the immediate dismissal of Lt. Col. Dooley, as well as an immediate condemnation, deeply probing investigation, and swift trial by courts-martial of those responsible for allowing content advocating genocide to be used to indoctrinate future leaders within the U.S. armed forces. It is high time that bloodthirsty, amoral, and nation-destroying concepts be stamped out of the educational institutions of our nation’s military, and that the time-honored, lofty traditions of our armed forces be restored to their proper place.

Pamela Geller and other Islamophobes are offended that the military is reconsidering such training and that Gen. Dempsey found it inappropriate.  Geller goes so far as to say that she sees the pulling of this course as “Islamic supremacist groups and their operatives have infiltrated the senior level of DoD, DoS, DoJ. They are disarming our military and law enforcement, and deceiving the American people through their operatives in the media.”

Geller’s partner (and fellow leader of SIOA which was designated as a hate group by the SPLC), Robert Spencer is also unhappy that the military is re-evaluating its’ training materials, but his real gripe seems to be with the fact that his name has come up as one of those spewing anti-Muslim hatred disguised as scholarship. Spencer finds no problem with the training material (although he says he hasn’t read it) but is angry that Spencer Ackerman made it public.

And, if anyone has any doubts about the effect such training materials have on those exposed to it, here is a comment under Spencer’s article:

“They hate everything you stand for and will never coexist with you, unless you submit,” the instructor, Army. Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley, said in a presentation last July for the course at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va. The college, for professional military members, teaches midlevel officers and government civilians on subjects related to planning and executing war.

This is as accurate statement as any ever made about Islam. Muslims refuse to accept any non-Allah made law, explaining why no Muslim should ever be allowed to become a citizen or serve in the military because each such person is required to take – and mean from the heart – an oath to the US Constitution.  Muslim hate for everything we stand for is riddled throughout all of their (Muslim) dealings with us infidels”.

If anyone has “infiltrated” the military and law enforcement it seems to be the Islamophobes, and they are spreading exactly the same message as al Qaeda.  For far too long the military and government have relied in many of their training programs on a veritable who’s who of Islamophobes in America to provide innaccurate  and biased information.  Gen. Dempsey is correct, such training is “totally objectionable”.

Devon Chaffee discussed today on the ACLU blog why such anti-Muslim rhetoric aids no one but the real enemy – al Qaeda:

This is why Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense, had no patience for members of Congress who pressed him to articulate a so-called “Islamist Extremist Threat” at a hearing last December. Instead Secretary Stockton made clear that any articulation of U.S. enemies as Islamic was harmful to U.S. security stating:

“I’ll make it as clear as I can. We are not at war with Islam. [ ] Al Qaeda would love to convince Muslims around the world that the United States is at war with Islam… That is a prime propaganda tool. And I’m not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goals.”

Given the blatant disconnect between the materials’ teachings about “total war” with Islam and Secretary Stockton’s strategic analysis, we have to ask: what are government agencies doing to reverse the impact of the anti-Muslim disinformation campaign that infiltrated their training? One would think that it would be in the United States’ interest to take immediate and effective action to remediate the counterproductive effects of biased training.

Yet, yesterday, FBI Director John Mueller defended the FBI’s recent review of its training materials before the House Judiciary Committee. Mueller minimized the scope of the problem and noted the creation of a new screening process. But for hundreds if not thousands of personnel already subjected to the biased training, the damage has already been done and continues to spread because the FBI has refused to withdraw intelligence products that further the same flawed concepts. Still Mueller, like Pentagon officials, has made no reference to whether he will pursue corrective training to counteract the impact of anti-Islam dogma.

Nor has any agency undertaking the White House-mandated review of training materials yet indicated that it will take steps to hold those responsible for biased trainings to account. In fact, there are some members of Congress urging agencies to get the bias put back into training materials. If there is no accountability, how will the relevant agencies ensure that trainers who were paid government funds only to propagate racial stereotypes aren’t awarded more training contracts in the future?

As more and more information about the biased trainings is made public, U.S. officials need to acknowledge that pulling the problematic materials is not, on its own, sufficient to repair the damage these trainings have caused. Corrective training and accountability are needed if these damaging past mistakes are to be remediated and avoided going forward.

Richard Bartholomew also published an article today that neatly lays out the history of how we got into this situation with anti-Muslim training, and provides numerous links to the original sources.  He says

Dempsey ordered a review of teaching materials last month. The story is now being reported widely – it’s even made its way onto the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (with input from Lawrence Kolb of the Center for American Progress – go to 2hr 46m 25s).

Yesterday, Wired reported on some of the material included in the course:

…For the better part of the last decade, a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that America’s real terrorist enemy wasn’t al-Qaida — but the Islamic faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-Muslim demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion.

…Dooley lays out a possible four-phase war plan to carry out a forced transformation of the Islam religion… International laws protecting civilians in wartime are “no longer relevant,” Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying “the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki” to Islam’s holiest cities, and bringing about “Mecca and Medina[‘s] destruction.”

Improper training on Islam for military and law-enforcement is a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny over the past year and a half: a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December 2010, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March 2011 which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman. A report by the progressive Political Research Associates also appeared in spring 2011, while the summer saw critical pieces on CNN and NPR, as well as an earlier report in WiredWired also ran a second piece in October. This year has seen troubling stories involving the NYPD and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee.

The latest Wired piece has details of some of the guest lecturers used by Dooley, with links to original sources:

Shireen Burki declared during the 2008 election that “Obama is bin Laden’s dream candidate.” In her Joint Forces Staff College lecture, she told students that “Islam is an Imperialist/Conquering Religion.” (.pdf)

Stephen Coughlin…. suggested [link] that al-Qaida helped drive the overthrow of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. It was part of a scheme by Islamists to conquer the world, he added. And Coughlin mocked those who didn’t see this plot as clearly as he did, accusing them of “complexification.”

…Former FBI employee John Guandolo told the conspiratorial World Net Daily website last year that Obama was only the latest president to fall under the influence of Islamic extremists… Guandolo’s paper, titled “Usual Responses from the Enemy When Presented With the Truth“ (.pdf), was one of hundreds of presentations, documents, videos and web links electronically distributed to the Joint Forces Staff College students. Included in that trove: a paper alleging that “it is a permanent command in Islam for Muslims to hate and despise Jews and Christians“ (.pdf). So was a video lecture from Serge Trifkovic, a former professor who appeared as a defense witness in several trials of Bosnian Serb leaders convicted of war crimes, including the genocide of Muslims. A web link, titled “Watch Before This Is Pulled,” supposedly shows President Obama — the commander-in-chief of the senior officers attending the course — admitting that he’s a Muslim.

Most of these names are familiar: in 2010, Coughlin took part in an unofficial “Fort Hood Memorial” event alongside Gen “Jerry” Boykin, Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem, and Robert Spencer; Guandolo was the focus of last summer’s NRP piece, which focused on police training in Ohio. In 2009, Trifkovic took part in a “Preserving Western Civilization” conference organised by Dr Michael H. Hart, an astrophysicist who claims that human history should be interpreted by considering differences in racial IQs – I discussed this here.

Eurasia Review notes that

For the better part of the last decade,

href=”http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/fbi-islam-domination/”>

a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that

href=”http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/fbi-islam-qaida-irrelevant/”>

America’s real terrorist enemy wasn’t al-Qaida — but the Islamic faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-Muslim demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion.

As an American Muslim who loves America and loves Islam, I can only pray that the voices that are heard are those of people like Gen. Dempsey, and the Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia, and not Islamophobic voices like Ret. Gen. Boykin or Pamela Geller and her fellow bigots.  The extremist voices on all sides need to be marginalized.  As an American Muslim I am fully committed to a war against al Qaeda, but refuse to participate in a war against Islam. In fact, I see a war against Islam as a war against Muslims, myself included.

After Rep. King’s hearings on Muslims in the military, I said

Put this sort of accusation together with:
— the possible indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens,
— Halliburton’s push to outfitFEMA and U.S. Army camps or internment/detention centers around the United States,
— the fact that our law enforcement agencies and personnel have been fed a steady diet of anti-Muslim propaganda,
— the fact that many of our elected representatives have expressed anti-Muslim views including the possibility that Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution,
— and Rep. Rick Womick’s call to ban Muslims from the military.

All of these developments taken together are particularly alarming as they might relate to the American Muslim community.

I am not only concerned but frightened.  It is difficult to maintain any sense of humor with all of this going on, but my husband suggested to me that perhaps we don’t need to worry so much about our retirement as the government may be developing an “American Muslim retirement plan”.

I am certain that I will not be the only one in the American Muslim community who will be watching how all of this plays out to see just how frightened we should be.

FBI’s Involvement with Anti-Muslim Islamophobes More Extensive than Previously Admitted

The FBI’s incompetence is becoming ever more clear. One of the anti-loons of the year, Spencer Ackerman takes them apart once again.

Books, Lectures, Websites: Fresh Evidence for FBI’s Anti-Islam Training

by Spencer Ackerman (wired.com)

Following months of denials, the FBI is now promising a “comprehensive review of all training and reference materials” after Danger Room revealed a series of Bureau presentations that tarred average Muslims as “radical” and “violent.”

But untangling the Islamophobic thread woven into the FBI’s counterterrorism training culture won’t be easy. In addition to inflammatory seminars which likened Islam to the Death Star and Mohammed to a “cult leader,” Danger Room has obtained more material showing just how wide the anti-Islam meme has spread throughout the Bureau.

The FBI library at Quantico currently stacks books from authors who claim that “Islam and democracy are totally incompatible.” The Bureau’s private intranet recently featured presentations that claimed to demonstrate the “inherently violent nature of Islam,” according to multiple sources. Earlier this year, the Bureau’s Washington Field Office welcomed a speaker who claimed Islamic law prevents Muslims from being truly loyal Americans. And as recently as last week, the online orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces included claims that Sunni Islam seeks “domination of the world,” according to a law enforcement source.

“I don’t think anyone with half a brain would paint 1.2 billion people of any ethnic or religious persuasion with a single brushstroke,” Mike Rolince, an FBI counterterrorism veteran who started Boston’s JTTF, tells Danger Room. “Who did they run that curriculum by — either an internal or outside expert — to get some balance?”

The FBI declined to respond directly to such questions from Danger Room. But what’s clear is that the anti-Islam sentiment in the FBI’s training and orientation isn’t the marginal problem that the Bureau portrayed in its previous public statements and press releases. It’s not a historical problem, it’s ongoing. And it will require substantial effort to root out. Not even a July warning from the office of a powerful senator was able to spur the Bureau to purge itself of its anti-Islam material.

One example is found in the mandatory orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or JTTFs. Those task forces are a nationwide partnership between the FBI, intelligence analysts and state and local police. As of late last week, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the program, new members or those needing a belated orientation saw this description of Sunnism — the largest branch of Islam — as part of their online training course:

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.

That paragraph is contained in orientation material, known as the Joint Terrorism Task Force Orientation v2 course, distributed online through a secure intranet for every member of the JTTFs. That’s approximately 4,400 officials, according to FBI figures, all charged with stopping terrorism. The orientation course is mandatory for every member of the task force.

The passage is especially odd because most of the orientation consists of practical, mundane information, such as the proper forms to fill out during an inquiry or FBI standards for investigations, according to the source. It consists of five sections, one of which is about Islam, Muslims and Arab culture. The supervisor of each JTTF has to certify that all his or her personnel have completed the online orientation course, and then must pass that certification up to FBI Headquarters’ Counterterrorism Division.

The FBI would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the JTTF orientation material.

The excerpt from the JTTF orientation material was provided to Danger Room by a concerned law enforcement official, who says the material contains 20 paragraphs about Islam in a similar vein. Several Bureau and law enforcement officials who spoke to Danger Room on condition of anonymity believe that such instructions are detrimental to uncovering and thwarting terrorist plots, and that the FBI continues to be less than forthright with the press and the public about the extent of its teaching that Islam is at the root of the menace of terrorism. Evidence for this continuing belief can be found in Quantico, Virginia, at the FBI’s elite training academy.
Within the sprawling campus of that academy, Quantico maintains a library befitting the FBI’s status as America’s most important law enforcement agency. It stacks thousands of books, from heavy tomes containing the U.S. criminal code to forensics reference material that could be out of CSI, across three unclassified floors. The library is open to all FBI agents, plus intelligence officials and police from across the country, for a single purpose: to provide background material for cases, guidance material for intelligence analysis and other tools meant directly to aid law enforcement. In other words, it’s not your public library.

There’s a section on religion — in which Islam, perhaps understandably, predominates. A law enforcement source provided Danger Room with a photographic catalog, compiled in late August, of approximately 100 books on Islam out of around 150 stacked at Quantico. Many of them are innocuous or contain unquestioned scholarship, ranging from authors like Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism expert at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.

But, significantly, the library also contains books by anti-Islam authors that portray the religion as devoted to murder and world domination.

There’s Militant Islam Reaches America by Daniel Pipes, who claims to have “confirmed” that President Obama was once a practicing Muslim, and whose book asks, “Why would terrorists oppress women if this did not have something to do with their Islamic outlook?” A book calledIslamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology ties “normative Islam” to “horrendous cruelty and inhumanity.” The editor of the anthology Muhammad’s Monsters has previously written that “Islam and democracy are totally incompatible, and are mutually inconclusive. The same applies to Modernity, which is perceived as a threat to Islamic civilization.”

And there is also Onward Muslim Soldiers by Robert Spencer. Spencer is one of the U.S.’ leading opponents of Islam. Along with the blogger Pamela Geller, Spencer leads a group called Stop Islamicization of America, which “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Spencer’s work was cited 64 timesin the political manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo terrorist who killed 69 people earlier this year.

When Danger Room presented the FBI in July with recently declassified material showing that its Law Enforcement Training Unit recommended one of Spencer’s other books to agents, its response was unequivocal: “The presentation in question was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced.” Onward Muslim Soldiers was available for checkout in the Quantico library as recently as late August.

The FBI’s dalliance with Robert Spencer is not limited to the stacks of Quantico. In July 2010, Spencer presented what he described as “two two-hour seminars on the belief-system of Islamic jihadists” to the JTTF in Tidewater, Virginia. He presented a similar lecture to the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, which is co-hosted by the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. When a coalition of civil rights groups sent a letter protesting the FBI’s embrace of Spencer, the Special Agent in Charge of the Norfolk FBI, Alex J. Turner, replied, “Seeking broad knowledge on a wide range of topics is essential in understanding today’s terrorist environment, and helps us to defeat ignorance and strengthen relationships with the diverse communities we serve.”

Spencer was only one of an array of self-anointed experts delivering similar messages about Islam to Bureau audiences.

On January 11, the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office held a seminar on Islamic extremism. In the conference room of its Judiciary Square offices, about 60 of the Field Office’s agents and intelligence analysts spent the morning hearing two presentations — one from terrorism expert Sebastian Gorka, a fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and another from a self-identified expert on Islamic law, Stephen Coughlin, a former consultant to the military’s Joint Staff. The takeaway of Coughlin’s presentation, according to an attendee: Islam is out to take over the world and there is no such thing as a loyal American Muslim.

Coughlin was described to Danger Room as presenting a far more extreme take on Islam than Gorka, who spoke separately on the subject of “Core Texts of Salafi Jihad.” But Coughlin allegedly told the agents that Muslims believe Islamic law to be all-encompassing, preventing an either/or choice to U.S. Muslims: either reject the U.S. Constitution or fall into apostasy. Sharia law, Coughlin instructed in the tone of a neutral reporter, was a threat to the agents in the room. He explored an obscure Islamic concept known as “abrogation,” the supposition that some Koranic verses supersede others, to argue that the Koran’s non-violent passages are overtaken in Muslim eyes by commands to wage war against “non-believers.”

It’s a line Coughlin has long pushed. During a presentation at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010 — in which he shared a stage with Spencer and Geller — Coughlin asserted that the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the geopolitical organization of Muslim nations, has a “ten-year plan” to make “defamation of Islam a crime” worldwide. One of his briefing slides read, “The SILENCE in the mainstream media on this DIRECT ASSAULT is DEAFENING! — not just on speech — but on thought itself!!” Coughlin’s 2007 master’s thesis at the National Defense Intelligence College claimed that President George W. Bush’s reassurance that the U.S. was not at war with Islam had a “a chilling effect on those tasked to define the enemy’s doctrine by effectively placing a policy bar on the unconstrained analysis of Islamic doctrine as a basis for this threat.” (.pdf) In 2008, his Joint Staff contract wasn’t renewed after a staffer for Gordon England, then the deputy secretary of defense, raised concerns about his work. (Through a spokesman, England declined to comment.)

Coughlin did not respond to requests for comment.

The presentation to the Washington Field Office wasn’t mandated by FBI Headquarters. It was set up on the initiative of a well-intentioned agent. But not everyone was comfortable with the presentation. Some walked out in boredom or disgust, according to the source.  Others made fun of it.

But some voiced worries that the presentation sent an implicit message to agents that they should be targeting Muslims in the name of stopping terrorism. And in the past few years, the FBI hasaccelerated its monitoring of mosques, community centers, businesses and other organizations run by Muslims. Several observers suspect that the persistence of training materials that casts Islam in a threatening light helps explain the increased surveillance. Others — including many counterterrorism professionals within the FBI who say they are disgusted by the bigoted material they’ve received — fear that the presentations will drive a wedge between the Bureau and the U.S. Muslim communities whose assistance it needs to prevent terrorism.

“Inappropriately enlarging the characterization of the threat to include all of Islam,” says Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, a former official with the National Counterterrorism Center, “may inadvertently increase al Qaida’s ideological resonance and could facilitate recruitment of would-be terrorists.”

Books in a library and presentations in a field office will only reach the agents who visit the library or work in the field office. A Joint Terrorism Task Force orientation will only reach JTTF members. But every FBI agent can access the bureau’s intranet. And until Danger Room’s expose, that network hosted material purporting to demonstrate “the inherently violent nature of Islam.”

Two law enforcement sources with access to the intranet — sections of which are classified — described to Danger Room its page on “Islamic Law.” FBI intranet users type in “Islamic Law” or “Islam” into a Google-like search function. Up pops what’s called a Subject Matter Expert page, or SME, pronounced “Smee.” Usually, an agent seeking a SME will be searching for material directly relevant to an ongoing investigation or a timely intelligence product. But the SME for “Islamic Law” recently featured uploaded documents stretching all the way back to the 19th century, with titles like “The Personal Law of The Mahommedans.”

One such document is a text from 1915, titled “Mohammed Or Christ: An Account Of The Rapid Spread of Islam In All Parts of The Globe, The Methods Employed to Obtain Proselytes, Its Immense Press, Its Strongholds, & Suggested Means to be Adopted to Counteract the Evil.” That explicitly religious and archaic tome instructs that its purpose is “to set forth the appeal of that [Muslim] world for the Gospel. It is a decisive hour!”

Another is a Regent University master’s thesis called “Devoutly Violent or Nominally Peaceful? The Justification for Violence in Islam.” It asks: “[S]eeing as the foremost goal of Islam (which literally means ’submission’) is to subject the entire world to Shari’a law and Allah’s guidance, can a devout Muslim who witnesses to a Christian (who rejects his invitation to Islam) really not become violent? … In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates the inherently violent nature of Islam.”

In the image above, formerly available on the FBI’s “Islamic Law” SME, a thermometer represents a correlation between the Muslim population of a country and its “violence level.” As Muslims accumulate in a given place, they incline toward “grievance fabrication,” then “chronic terror attacks,” and even “state-run ethnic cleansing.” The final stage is “peace” — in an all-Muslim state.

Two law enforcement sources told Danger Room that after our coverage of the FBI’s training materials ran, the “Islamic Law” SME and similar FBI intranet sites were scrubbed of such material. Danger Room was able to acquire some of these documents before they were removed.

Other materials reinforced the message delivered on the FBI’s internal network. A 2006 FBI intelligence assessment judged that “conversion” to Islam or intensifying Islamic faith (.PDF) could be early-warning signs of terrorism — a judgment that would apply to millions of American citizens. That assessment is still in official use, according to the FBI, even though one of its public responses to our expose was a public assurance that “Strong religious beliefs should never be confused with violent extremism. Views that are contrary should not and will not be taught to FBI employees.”

Asked to reconcile that statement with the 2006 assessment, FBI spokesman Christopher Allen replied, “The assessment you cite includes a series of indicators of radicalization. These indicators do not conflict with our statement that strong religious beliefs should never be confused with violent extremism.”

The FBI is now in damage-control mode. On Thursday afternoon, the FBI held a conference call with Muslim civil rights groups to apologize for its offensive training materials and admit that they were more extensive than it previously acknowledged. The FBI did not make any commitments on which outside experts or organizations it would consult for an updated training curriculum. But according to one participant, the FBI representative on the call said that many people within the Bureau disapproved of the anti-Islamic rhetoric. The FBI’s Allen declined to comment.

“We are glad that this very serious issue has finally received the attention of FBI leadership,” says Farhana Khera, executive director of the San Francisco-based civil rights group Muslim Advocates, “but an internal review is insufficient at this stage. In the last year, the FBI has either defended its use of bigoted trainers or emphatically assured the public that the various trainings were one-time, isolated incidents. Each time those assurances were later revealed to be false.”

Muslim Advocates sent a letter to the Justice Department Inspector General last week seeking an investigation. It has yet to receive a reply. However, the chairs of the Senate’s homeland security and intelligence committees have separately told Danger Room they will subject the FBI’s counterterrorism training to scrutiny.

For months, in fact, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), has raised concerns that law enforcement at all levels lacks “meaningful standards” for counterterrorism training. In the course of his ongoing inquiry on the subject, Lieberman’s staff became aware of a particularly problematic individual: an FBI intelligence analyst named William Gawthrop.

In April, Gawthrop presented a three-day briefing at the FBI’s Quantico training facility to counterterrorism agents in which he equated “mainstream” Islam with terrorism. In earlier interviews, he mused about triggering a “deteriorating cascade effect” upon Islam, convincing Muslims to abandon their religion by attacking “soft spots” in the Islamic faith. And he has lectured widely about the “threat” of Islam, ostensibly as a private citizen.

Lieberman staffers were appalled by the “inappropriate materials being used by Mr. Gawthrop and notified the FBI in mid-July of their concerns,” says Leslie Phillips, Communications Director of the Homeland Security Committee.

The FBI wouldn’t directly comment on the committee’s warning, instead reiterating the Bureau’s new commitment to a wide-ranging review — one that will stretch from Quantico to the FBI’s many field offices to the J. Edgar Hoover Building, its Washington headquarters.

“The senator hopes the FBI will take appropriate action to prohibit these and any other inaccurate training materials from being used in the future,” Phillips adds.

In the meantime, Gawthrop is, as of this writing, still an FBI counterterrorism analyst. And the message he helped inculcate in the Bureau lingers.

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