Following calls from Muslim advocacy groups for an investigation into training materials, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has revealed around 1,000 documents that an internal probe has described as inappropriate.
Some of the papers are filled with “factual errors.” Others, says the FBI, were created in “poor taste.” After digging through around 160,000 pieces of training material, the FBI says they’ve identified a plethora of questionable content that was used within the agency that could be considered offensive to Arabs or Muslims.
Among those papers were charts that insisted that the more devout a Muslim one, the more likely he or she was likely to commit a violent act. Some even linked “mainstream” Muslims as terrorist sympathizers. The FBI had to group an entire cache of questionable training materials as ones that employed “stereotypes” and another included information that “lacked precision.”
The FBI says they are retiring the materials, but for one of America’s largest religious groups, that might be too little too late.
“It is a travesty that the Muslim-American community has lost trust with an agency that is here to protect us,” Salam Al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, tells the Washington Post. Along with the Islamic Society of North America, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Interfaith Alliance and the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign, al-Marayati’s group was in the audience for a recent discussion with FBI Director Robert Mueller in which the agency discussed the inappropriate materials.
Al-Marayati adds that the material is doing damage outside of the Muslim American community, too. While the groups write in a joint statement of “the negative impact of these training materials on the Muslim-American community,” outside of the US there could be repercussions as well.
“People will report criminal activity to the authorities, that’s been proven time and again,” Marayati tells Wired.com’s Danger Room. “But if we are giving propaganda to al-Qaeda, resuscitating this dying ideology that al-Qaeda is promoting, by continually exposing anti-Muslim propaganda published by the government, that undermines our pluralism, which is the best defense against any transnational ideological threat.”
Even if the news out of FBI Headquarters in Washington doesn’t flame the war for al-Qaeda yet, it could just be on the way. FBI spokesman Christopher Allen tells Danger Room that although the bureau has gone through 160,000 documents, a review by the Army’s counterterrorism specialists at West Point is still underway.
Once that is complete, however, there is also the question of an entire different scandal where Muslims are dehumanized in America — this time with the CIA. A separate Associated Press investigation into the New York City Police Department’s Demographics Unit conducted over the last year alleged that the Central Intelligence Agency installed agents in the NYPD in order to instruct them on how to spy and survey innocent Muslims across New York. That investigation as well is still ongoing.