FBI Islam Lessons Call 'Mainstream' Muslims 'Violent, Radical'

The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't have a great relationship with the American Muslim community. Maybe because the agency is teaching its employees that even mainstream Muslims are violent terrorist sympathizers?

Wired's Spencer Ackerman got his hands on some "recent FBI training material on Islam"—more recent than the similarly offensive 2009 material he published in July—and boy is it bad:

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."

The FBI says that "the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. government" (the main author of the briefings is apparently a guy named William Gawthrop, an FBI intelligence analyst who once told birther champions WorldNetDaily that "Muhammad's mindset is a source for terrorism") and "[t]his particular training segment was delivered a single time and not used since." (That single time was March 21.)

As Ackerman points out, not only are these presentations ignorant and bigoted as all get-out, they're actively detrimental to the cause of rooting out and stopping terrorism:

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.

You can look at PDFs of the presentations here, here, and here.

[Wired; image via AP]