September 15th, 2011
11:12 PM ET

FBI training program: Mainstream Muslims sympathize with militants

By Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell, CNN

Washington (CNN)–The passages are startling. One refers to the Prophet Mohammed as a "Cult leader for a small inner circle."

Another says Mohammed "ordered the assassinations and executions of his critics." One after another, the phrases depict Islam, its writings and leaders, as violent and bent on conquest.

What's even more startling: These passages were written by an FBI analyst, they were shown as part of a training program for agents, and the author believes mainstream Muslims believe all this, not just the extremist wing.

The phrases are in slide presentations given to FBI agents at the bureau's training facility in Quantico, Virginia.  They were written by an FBI analyst.  The slides were first posted by Wired magazine, which says it received them from "FBI whistle blowers."

At the beginning of the presentation, there is a disclaimer:  "The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any entity of the United States government."

Then, in a section entitled "Strategic Themes and Drivers in Islamic Law," it lays out ideas the author attributes to Mohammed and mainstream Muslims that often seem like they're in a jihadist manifesto.

One section lays out "Just War" principles of Islam, which claims Muslims believe "War is the rule and peace is only temporary."  Another section describes "Mohammed's Quran" as saying "I will send terror into the unbelievers' hearts, cut off their heads and even the tips of their fingers." One slide says Islam's "World View" is that there can be no peace between Islam and others "...until dar al Islam conquers and assimilates its adversary."

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and an Islamic scholar, says of the reference to the Prophet Mohammed as a "cult leader": "It's horrific to say that. Is Jesus a cult leader? I mean, one does not do that and be respectful to the faith of people. It certainly doesn't correspond to what the reality of Islam is."

Zogby also refutes the characterization that Mohammed ordered the assassinations of his critics. "Yes, there were people who he in fact was opposed to. And yes, there was a conflict that was going on, a war that was going on in the Arabian peninsula at the time. But to put it that way makes it sound as if he is organizing hit squads to go after the opposition. That's not what the story line was about."

The author of the training presentation writes, of some of these extreme and violent beliefs: "The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are mainstream."

That drew a passionate response from Zogby. "I say this is the propaganda of the Islamophobes," Zogby said.  "This is what they've been preaching. This is why they've been stopping the building of mosques. They want to paint an entire community - an entire faith community - as extremist and radical and violent and prone to violence. It's bigotry of the worst sort."

Contacted by CNN, the FBI would not comment on Zogby's remarks. FBI spokesman Christopher M. Allen said in a statement:

"This particular training segment was conducted six months ago, one time only, at Quantico and was quickly discontinued. The instructor who conducted that training block no longer provides training on behalf of the FBI. Policy changes have been under way to better ensure that all training is consistent with FBI standards. These changes will help develop appropriate training content for new agent training and continuing education for all employees, as well as introduce a robust consultative element from experts outside the FBI."

Allen told CNN the person who wrote the presentation is an FBI analyst, not an agent. Though the person was removed from training programs, Allen said he still works at the bureau as an analyst. 

Asked by CNN whether the analyst was or will be disciplined, Allen said he could not comment on personnel matters. CNN asked to interview the analyst and that request was denied.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FBI has often invited Muslim leaders to speak to agents and has conducted several outreach programs with the American Muslim community.

Tom Fuentes, a former FBI Assistant Director and a CNN National Security contributor, said the FBI and other law enforcement agencies want to expose students to a wide array of ideas and beliefs during training.

Asked if he thinks FBI counterterror agents believe mainstream Muslims are that extreme, Fuentes said "No, they don't believe it. And they furthermore believe strenuously in a strong outreach program."  But Fuentes said he does worry about the implications of that particular training session and the fact that it has been made public.

"It would play into anybody's hands who is trying to diminish the FBI or the U.S. government's ability to establish cooperation in Muslim communities. So by its nature, if someone in the community sees or hears something suspicious and feels that they cannot cooperate with the FBI or other agencies, they may not. And that would make it more dangerous."

But Fuentes is hopeful that the fact that the FBI acted so quickly to pull the program "may give the FBI more credibility" with Muslim leaders.

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Content Partner • Islam • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (494 Responses)
  1. blog

    i see u

    November 10, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  2. Kyon

    on both sides of evil.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  3. Infidel

    I would suggest that “moderate” or “not-muslim-enough” Muslims should spend more time trying to reach the "radical" or “fundamental” Muslims and convert them with the same zeal they use to try and deflect blame onto other peoples and faiths. You know…like when you muslim apologists bring up the Crusades from a 1,000 years ago.

    I don't know how you'll do it with no authoritative hierarchy and with those kinds of hate passages in the Qu'ran, but I was you luck in your endeavors. Watch your necks!! After all, as per the KORAN, there is no such thing as a "moderate" MUSLIM

    October 2, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  4. Infidel

    Why are so many surprised? Remember back in 2007 when the PEW Research Group reported that: "1 in 4 (26%) U.S. Young Muslims OK with Homicide Bombings Against Civilians."

    Come on people...what do you expect from this cult ideology called ISLAM?!?!

    And that is just for Muslims living HERE in this country...not some Islamic arm pit like the Middle East!

    Could you imagine the outrage if one in four JEWS or CHRISTIANS were "OK with suicide bombings against civilians?" THIS IS WHAT ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT!! WAKE UP!!

    October 2, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  5. Infidel

    Look...a "good" MUSLIM cannot dismiss all of the calls to fight and KILL in their KORAN. Every prime source regarding their terrorist prophet muhammad's life confirm that Allah's lone spokesperson wasn't a prophet but was in fact a terrorist – having issued no predictions that came true but having led around over 70 terrorist raids for booty and political power in the first 10 years of the Islamic Era alone! In the 33rd surah, the Koran tells Muslims to follow Muhammad's example. In the 8th and 9th surahs, Allah says that those who do, and become jihadists killing non-Muslims in his cause, are the BEST Muslims.

    So the rationale here isn't complex, or even subject to interpretation. According to Muhammad, Allah, and all of Islam’s “holy” texts”, all “good” Muslims are terrorists.

    October 2, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  6. anon

    Just because one thing is worse than another does not make the first thing good or even palatable. All collective religions share several common, endemic problems: amongst these are the tendency to be abused by "leaders" for their own benefit, the ability to have their teachings subverted willfully by those in positions of power, historical roots in man (meaning violence or worse, since man is flawed), the compulsion that other religions be oppressed as a necessary condition of (the religion's own) survival, and – perhaps worst of all – an implicit requirement of obedience and conformance by adherents, who are indoctrinated, typically from birth, to submit their own conscience and sense of reason and justice to an omnipotent deity who is in reality said usurpers. Together, these flaws make any widely-practiced religion a danger to peace and harmony, as they encourage conditions wherein amoral causes can gain tremendous power to do harm. For what? Anyone who wants to pursue spirituality can do so in a library with all the world's wisdom at their fingertips, and the guidance (whatsoever there is) of their contemporaries. Proud? Fine, just be someone worth being proud of.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  7. ProudMuslim

    To all the Islam bashers, despite all your negative comments about Muslims and Islam in addition to the constant barrage of negative media reports, why is it that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world? I guess Muslims must be going around with their swords getting converts. My sis-in-law who wears the hijab is taking a french language course and her classmate who is Colombian commented that she really likes her hijab and took her scarf that was around her neck and put it on like the hijab. We all know which way her inclinations are. I guess my sis-in-law must have threatened her with her sword. About 2 weeks ago, a Romanian woman with a doctorate in Mathematics came to our mosque and commented that since she is a mathmatician she likes everything to be logical and Islam is the only religion that does not go against logic. I guess the Muslims must have put a sword to her head to get her to convert. Doesn't it make you wonder why people are converting to Islam especially women since Islam is so oppressive. Might it just be that it's the truth and truth can never be hidden and it always prevails. So to all Muslims bashers..burn..burn..burn...And God is truly great.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • mark


      September 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • ag

      Islam is fastest growing religion among barbarians. It allows abuse of women and allows men to treat women like dirt by having multiple wives, divorcing just by saying one word. Nothing to do with Islam being so good that people are queuing up to embrace it.

      October 1, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • ag

      Furthermore, all these women you claim who say that Islam is good, let these women convert to Muslims and go to Saudi Arabia. When they will be sentenced to 10 lashes for driving, their heads will get cleared and they will know what Islam is.

      October 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  8. prognosis

    Well, at least the US government is giving its FBI agents accurate information about Islam. The bull the US government tries to foist onto the public is pathetic.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  9. kasnudl

    The staggering thing about the Islam discussion in media and politics is the total denial of reality. It´s good to know that at least the FBI knows the facts. The fact is that after 9-11 Bin Laden was probably the most popular person in the Islamic world (for example 59 % approval rating in the most populated and “moderate” Muslim country Indonesia in 2003, according to Pew Research).

    Of course there are many peaceful Muslims but most of them actually have very little knowledge about their religion, many of them have never read the Quran. If you actually read the Quran (or the Hadith) you will find dozens of verses commanding explicitly violence against “infidels”.
    America and the West won´t win the war against Islamic terror as long as we pretend that Islamic terror has nothing to do with Islam...the ideology of the 7 th century Arabic peninsula is not a religion of peace and tolerance and in fact Islam is a even much greater problem for the Muslims in Islamic countries than for us in the West, because Islam is not compatbible with human rights or any progress in human civilization..I hope America wakes up, greetings from Austria austroamericanfriendship.wordpress.com

    September 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • ProudMuslim

      How about we compare the Bible and the Quran and see which one contains more violence and killings? This post shows your ignorance and bigotry.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Vorps

      Bull!@#$. Every BBC survey showed that his approval rating was extremely low, and had never been high EVER.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  10. Guilty Bystander

    the truth hurts

    September 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.