Obama administration pulls references to Islam from terror training materials, official says
Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday that the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.
“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.
The move comes after complaints from advocacy organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial.
In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training materials.
Maintaining the training materials in their current state “will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community,” al-Marayati wrote.
Multiple online sources detail MPAC’s close alignment with CAIR.
In his op-ed, Al-Marayati demanded that the Justice Department and the FBI “issue a clear and unequivocal apology to the Muslim American community” and “establish a thorough and transparent vetting process in selecting its trainers and materials.”
Specifically, al-Marayati called for a new “interagency task force” to review the training materials — a task force including representatives of the Islamist organizations the FBI is tasked with monitoring.
Some believe the Obama administration’s Justice Department will go even further.
“The Attorney General has announced what sounds like reprogramming if they find people who have actually received training” that Islamist groups find objectionable, Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney told The Daily Caller. Gaffney is co-author of a report, published by the Center, titled “Sharia: The Threat to America.”
Dwight C. Holton, the U.S. Attorney in Oregon said he had spoken with Holder directly about the issue of the terror training materials. Holton is the federal prosecutor who announced the arrest of so-called “Christmas tree bomber” Mohamed Osman Mohamud in 2010. That announcement made no mention of Mohamud’s Muslim faith.
“I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for,” Holton said Wednesday. “They will not be tolerated.”
Such training materials “pose a significant threat to national security, because they play into the false narrative propagated by terrorists that the United States is at war with Islam,” he added.
In a Sept. 12 letter to White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan in September, Democratic Senate Homeland Security committee chair Joe Lieberman and ranking Republican member Susan Collins called for “meaningful standards” to govern counterterrorism training materials.
“Proper training about violent Islamist extremism is absolutely essential for our law enforcement personnel in order to empower them to identify and understand this grave threat, and then protect the American people from it,” the senators wrote. “Part of this training must be an understanding of the clear and profound difference between Islamist extremism, which is a totalitarian political ideology that is at war with us, and Islam, which is a religion practiced by more than a billion people around the world, including millions of law-abiding and loyal Americans.”
FBI analyst William Gawthrup is one of several experts on Islam whose training materials arouse the ire of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups. At the beginning of a videotaped presentation showing one of his training modules, Gawthrup makes exactly the same distinction demanded by Sen. Lieberman. The video was published online in June.
“Understand that what we are going to be doing is looking at Islam as an ideology, not as a religion,” Gawthrup says in the video.
“What’s the difference? Religion is man’s relationship to his deity. In the United States, we protect it under the first amendment. We’re going to set it aside. We are not going to discuss religion. We are going to discuss Islam as an ideology — man’s relationship to other men.”
“We’re going to be discussing that component of Islam that is nonreligious,” Gawthrup adds. “That component comprises about 83 percent of the ideology. Islam is only about 17 percent religious. The other 83 percent discusses the relationship [of Muslims] with the non-Islamic world.”
Now the Obama administration is establishing an advisory panel to vet terror-training materials for law enforcement and the intelligence community “that is comprised of people from the same organizations that are cited as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terror fund-raising trial,” according to Gaffney.
Reviewing these decisions at a forum about Sharia on Thursday, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy said the effort to include such groups as reviewers of training materials would have a “paralyzing” effect on law enforcement.
“What you’re doing is empowering the worst elements of the American Islamic community, which are the leadership elements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and you’re selling out the rank and file of American Muslims,” McCarthy said.