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FBI Scraps Training Depicting Muslims As Terrorism Sympathizers

Audio

Aired 9/19/11

Such material can lead to bad calls by intelligence officials and further shatter trust in the bureau.

The FBI is scrapping training lessons that portray Muslims as violent and terrorist sympathizers.

Agents at the bureau’s training facility in Virginia were taught that Muslims who are devout are more likely to be violent and that the Prophet Muhammed was a cult leader.

That’s the sort of misinformation that San Diego Muslims have complained about.

Counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman at the New America Foundation in Washington says the training at the FBI highlights the challenge law enforcement faces in finding responsible instructors to provide agents with accurate information. It’s a challenge the bureau met when discussing Christian groups in the 1980s which espoused violence.

“You could talk about their views without impugning all of Christianity," Fishman said. "We can talk about Al Qaeda and within the Islamic context without impugning Islam. And some of the folks that were providing this kind of training through the FBI clearly were not doing that.”

But that doesn’t mean most people within the intelligence community aren't doing that. Fishman said the danger in reports about the FBI’s training is the public will be left with the wrong impression.

“The wider public sometimes misunderstands the nuances that responsible people are drawing in teaching and they’re drawing those distinctions in conversations with policymakers," he said.

Muslims groups are calling for an investigation of the material used in FBI counterterrorism training.

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