Islamic group asks DoJ to review police training
Two groups representing American Muslims differed sharply Monday over revelations in The Washington Post about the sometimes-ignorant quality of local police training on radical Islam, with one group calling for a Justice Department investigation, the other saying it “is not a systematic problem.”
"Monitoring America," by staff reporters Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, cited examples of “experts” without formal training who are telling law enforcement groups that most U.S. Muslims want to take over America and replace the legal system with a strict code of religious laws known as sharia.
"They want to make this world Islamic,” one instructor, a former Army Special Forces sergeant and Los Angeles Police Department investigator who is now a private security consultant, told The Post. “The Islamic flag will fly over the White House My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders."
Another trainer quoted by The Post says he warns police officers that "you need to look at the entire pool of Muslims in a community," and recommended that law enforcement authorities "monitor Muslim student groups and local mosques and, if possible, tap their phones."
The Post said such views echo "Shariah: The Threat to America," a study by the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, which argues that radical Muslims are conducting a "stealth jihad" in the United States.
"Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center's book inaccurate and counterproductive," The Post said.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “to review Justice Department policies on the reported use of anti-Muslim extremists to train counterterrorism officials nationwide.”
"The use of ill-informed and agenda-driven 'experts' will inevitably result in law enforcement practices that are based on misinformation, not on our nation's legitimate security needs," CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a letter to Holder.
Likewise, M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, or AIFD, based in Phoenix, Az., said he “would have problems” with the instructors cited by The Post, in particular “former Muslims who had converted to Christianity,” such as Walid Shoebat, who recommended the indiscriminate wiretapping of Islamic student groups and mosques.
But “to indict a whole system for using some people who hate or fear Islam,” he said, was “wrong.”
“It’s not a systematic problem,” Jasser said.
CAIR, he said, “is in denial that there is no Islamic threat They just want to dismiss everything as Islamophobic.”
There is a real threat from “political Islam,” added Jasser, who was a U.S. Navy doctor for 11 years, "and counterterrorism training on it is very relevant.”
The problem comes when ill-advised trainers “equate political Islam and sharia with Islam itself.”
“If they see Islam itself as the problem, then the [training] strategy is dead in the water .It doesn’t present any type of solution.”
Jasser’s AIFD created a police training project called RILE, for Radical Islamism for Law Enforcement.
“The goal of the project is to provide police and legal professionals a basic understanding of Islam, the tools to engage Muslims in their community with confidence, and a systemic understanding of the path of radicalization,” said AIFD spokesman Gregg Edgar. “They have done some presentations here in Phoenix and will be further developing the project in 2011.”
CAIR has conducted sensitivity/diversity training with the FBI, armed forces and law enforcement organizations, but the FBI severed its formal ties in 2008 over CAIR’s ties to the Palestinian group Hamas, which the State Department classifies as a terrorist group.
Responding to CAIR’s call for a review of training programs, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd noted that “the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 required the President to issue guidelines to protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties when terrorism information is shared.”
“Any state, local, and tribal entity providing terrorism-related information to federal agencies covered by the guidelines MUST [Boyd’s emphasis] have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties," Boyd said. "The Justice Department and its partners take these obligations extremely seriously.”
| December 20, 2010; 8:40 PM ET
Categories: Homeland Security, Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Lawandcourts, Media
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