Senators blast FBI terror-training ‘lies’

The FBI swears it has stopped teaching agents that “mainstream” Muslims are proto-terrorists and that Mohammed is a “cult leader”. But top Senators aren’t prepared to let the FBI turn the page on its anti-Islam counterterrorism training, revealed by Danger Room on Wednesday.

“There is no room in America for the lies, propagated by al-Qaida, that the U.S. is at war with Islam, or the lie propagated by others that all Muslims support terrorism,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, told Danger Room.

Lieberman is one of the most consistently hawkish members of Congress. Not coincidentally, he’s been disturbed at recent reports that “inaccurate or even bigoted” anti-Islamic sentiment — his words — is substituting for diligent, responsible counterterrorism. In a letter this week to John Brennan, the president’s assistant on homeland security, Lieberman called for “meaningful standards” on law enforcement counterterrorism training, a point he reiterated to Danger Room.

“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,” Lieberman says. “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.”

Nor is Lieberman the only senator with oversight responsibilities disturbed by the FBI training materials. “Patriotic Muslim Americans can be one of our nation’s best weapons against radical Islamic terrorists,” Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee, told Danger Room. “Anyone who stigmatizes the entire Muslim American community will miss out on opportunities to work in partnership with that community to identify and take action against emerging terrorist threats before they can do harm to our country.”

Danger Room, 16 September 2011