American Muslims welcome Senate inquiry into accuracy and effectiveness of counterterrorism training

American Muslims welcome Senate inquiry into accuracy and effectiveness of counterterrorism training

by Sheila Musaji

The American Muslim community has been concerned about the poor quality of law enforcement training in counter-terrorism for some time.  In 2008, I wrote an article discussing three of the “experts” that were involved in one of these trainings at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  These trainers were Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani.  TAM has compiled information in a “Who’s Who” of a number of these Islamophobic speakers, which is provided at the bottom of this article. 

Earlier this year, a Political Research Report was released.  The report was titled MANUFACTURING THE MUSLIM MENACE, and subtitled: Private Firms, Public Servants, and the Threat to Rights and Security.  A petition to Congress and relevant federal and local agencies to ensure that counterterrorism skills training delivered to public servants is accurate, consistent with national security policy, and respectful of constitutional rights.

Here is the Preface:


“Kill them, including the children.”  That’s how to solve the threat of violent militant Muslims?

The above quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was how she understood the underlying theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010. Our investigator had turned around after Shoebat’s speech and asked the woman seated one row back what she thought was the solution offered by Shoebat.

“Kill them…including the children…you heard him,” was the full response.  Shoebat’s speech was described by our source as “frightening.”

Thom Cincotta’s report, “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace” skillfully exposes how speakers like Shoebat are teaching our public servants to fear Islam and hate Muslims. Cincotta shows how private counterterrorism training groups utilize a network of biased speakers to train law enforcement at every level and in all parts of the country. The response to these trainings has been, unfortunately, quite positive.

After reading this groundbreaking report, you will likely have a negative response to this post-September 11, 2001 phenomenon.

George D. Little, Director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS) at Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX, also attended the Las Vegas training where Shoebat spoke. When first contacted by e-mail after the ICTOA conference, Little responded, “I believe there are good Muslims like there are bad ones just like there are good Christians and bad ones.” Little, however, dodged repeated questions about what he specifically thought of the content of Shoebat’s speech, and has since refused to comment altogether.

Shoebat is popular in Texas, having helped organize an anti-Islamic event near Fort Hood; spoken at an evangelical church; and been featured in ads for a statewide law enforcement training: “Preparing Law Enforcement Executives for the Future,” co-sponsored by the state’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott.

Shoebat is also periodically interviewed as an expert on Islam on Fox News and is extensively quoted by the right-wing conspiracy website, World Net Daily.

Another Las Vegas conference attendee, Edwin Urie, praised Shoebat’s ICTOA speech. “From my perspective, Mr. Shoebat’s presentation was so much on the mark, so specific, and so correct that I was concerned that he would be the target of those about whom he spoke. Maybe the objections are merely a part of that,” wrote Urie in an e-mail. Urie is an adjunct professor at Henley-Putnam University and a specialist in counterterrorism.

Keith Davies, Director of the Walid Shoebat Foundation, claims that the Islamic “definition of Jihad quoted in Sharia law is clear and means struggle but is used in context of holy war to conquer infidels.”  Davies continues:

This is the standard interpretation recognized by all schools of thought in Sunni and Shia Islam.” [Not]  every Muslimpractices his religion to the letter but all that do are required to practice Jihad….So if say for argument 10% of Muslims actually practice their religion properly (figure is probably much higher) that would be 150 million terrorists. Even if it were 1% that is 1.5 million terrorists.

This interpretation of Islamic Law and its religious demands is an outlandish distortion; and yet it is being taught to our homeland security personnel. Davies disagrees with my criticism, and suggested that if I ““hate this country and its constitutional values of individual freedom and respect Islamic people so much, maybe Saudi Arabia could be a good place for you to live….”

Shoebat’s speech in Las Vegas was sponsored by the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA). Michael Riker, president of the ICTOA, said that “numerous public safety personnel along with military personnel heard from Walid Shoebat” at the event. Then Riker defended Shoebat’s bigoted tirade in a blog post:

What you hear from Walid is the TRUTH. The attendees were glued to what [Walid] had to say and the majority of them agreed. The liberal media is afraid to hear what the truth really is.  Who has been planning attacks on our country? We are in a war of ideology and if you don’t know that you need to get you head out of the sand. Before you make judgment see what is really going on then make an educated decision for yourself.

Shoebat has claimed that Islam is not the religion of God, but rather Islam is the devil, according to the Springfield News Leader. Shoebat revealed he was “shocked to find so many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam.”

Religion writer Richard Bartholomew has written that “Shoebat is a pseudo-expert on terrorism, Islamic extremism, and Biblical prophecy, and he teaches that Obama is a secret Muslim and that the Bible has prophesied a Muslim anti-Christ.” This means for some apocalyptic Christians that Muslims then would be allies of Satan in the End Times battle between good and evil. In this script, the battle ends when Jesus returns and with a vengeful God kills all those deemed to be non-believers in Christianity. This bloody and bigoted version of apocalyptic prophesies is rejected and condemned by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and every major Protestant denomination.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali wrote about Shoebat and other anti-Islamic bigots in an article on the website of MuslimMilitaryMembers, an organization that networksMuslims serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“Walid Shoebat has built a lucrative speaking career by manipulating the fears and whipping up hatred
between Jews and Muslims,” wrote Ghazali.

Federal and state agencies have turned to right-wing “experts” on “subversion” throughout U.S. history.  These experts have included informers, who have surfaced to spin their tales in public, or converts, who claim to have been involved in skullduggery and now are sounding the alarm. In both cases, the alarmist stories these self-dramatizing demagogues tell tend to be exaggerated or even invented.  The fear that there is a conspiracy to undermine the government emerges periodically throughout our history as a nation. This hunt for an exaggerated subversive enemy “Other” is dubbed a “countersubversion” panic. One government official involved in deporting thousands of innocent Italians and Russians during the “Palmer Raids” panic in the 1920s described it as a “delirium.” Most of us just call it a “Witch Hunt.” Whatever we call it, this countersubversion tendency has fueled episodes of political repression by government agencies and right-wing “patriotic” groups.

Shoebat may be the most outlandish example of the coterie of anti-Islamic bigots and fear mongers who are training law enforcement officials and anti-terrorism agents, but the problem is corrosive. Why are tax dollars being spent to peddle prejudice against Muslims in the United States? This report documents the problem. The solution will depend on a thorough and public review of this sad situation by government officials, elected representatives, a vigilant media, and public outrage.


report discusses the following individual “trainers”:  Mark A. Gabriel, Dave Gaubatz,  Walid Phares, Clare M. Lopez, Tawfiq Hamid, Stephen Coughlin, Nonie Darwish, Detective Ebrahim Ashabi, and Walid Shoebat


Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze wrote a lengthy expose on this issue in the Washington Monthly.  They were attacked for their analysis and responded to those attacks.  Richard Bartholomew discusses this in an article with many links.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) earlier this month called on the Obama administration to ask for oversight of anti-Islam bias in law enforcement training.  Here is the press release about that request:

Washington, March 9, 2011—The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Obama administration and Congress to provide oversight for what a new report says is widespread anti-Muslim bias in the training of law enforcement and security personnel nationwide.

CAIR’s request for oversight comes following the release of an 80-page report, titled “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security,” released today by Political Research Associates (PRA) that details a systemic failure to regulate content in counterterrorism training.

PRA says its report exposes the “anti-Islamic rhetoric propagated in one form or another by trainers associated with three private counterterrorism organizations with national outreach, and exposure to over 130,000 security and law-enforcement personnel.”

According to the executive summary of the report: ”[P]ublic servants are regularly presented with misleading, inflammatory, and dangerous information about the nature of the terror threat through highly politicized seminars, industry conferences, trade publications, and electronic media. . .a vocal and influential sub-group of the private counterterrorism training industry markets conspiracy theories about secret jihadi campaigns to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law, and effectively impugns all of Islam—a world religion with 1.3 billion adherents—as inherently violent and even terroristic.”

PRA’s nine-month investigation focused on three organizations—International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA), a nonprofit corporation founded by New York Police Department personnel; Security Solutions International, LLC (SSI), a Florida-based company that also publishes “The Counter Terrorist” magazine; and The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre), a for-profit company that functions as a training academy and speakers bureau in Washington, D.C.

The report states: “Although different from each other in many regards, all three groups, or their affiliated trainers and spokespeople, propagate dangerous Islamophobic themes and stories to personnel charged with public safety and national security.”

Islampohobic themes promoted by the trainers include claiming that Islam is a “terrorist” religion, that Muslims are a “fifth column” in America, that mainstream Muslims have terrorist ties, and that Muslims seek to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law.

Possible negative outcomes of the biased training could include biased intelligence analysis, stereotyping and profiling of Muslims, unlawful searches and illegal surveillance, physical violence and hate crimes, and the chilling of free speech.

“CAIR supports the recommendations in this revealing report that focus on increased government oversight of counterterrorism training to ensure that such training is balanced, accurate and free of anti-Muslim bias,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.  He added that the Washington Monthly magazine recently published a major investigative article, “How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam”, showing similar anti-Islam attitudes by private trainers of law enforcement agencies.

Hooper noted that in 2008, the Port of Seattle dissociated itself from cooperating with SSI, one of the group’s investigated by PRA, after learning of concerns about the anti-Islam bias of its presenters.

CAIR’s New York chapter (CAIR-NY) recently called on the New York Police Department (NYPD) to investigate how a notorious anti-Muslim propaganda film came to be used in mandatory counterterrorism training.

CAIR also asked the Defense Department not to use anti-Muslim extremists to train military personnel. That request came after Robert Spencer, one of the nation’s most notorious Islamophobes, published a post on his blog claiming he trained members of the “military intelligence community.”

A coalition of Muslim, Sikh, Asian-American, and other civil liberties groups called on FBI Director Robert Mueller to explain why Spencer was invited to train state and federal law enforcement officers. The letter noted that Spencer has referred to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a “con man.”

CAIR made a similar request of counterterrorism and military leaders not to employ Muslim-bashers as trainers following a Washington Post investigative report on post-9/11 government surveillance, which stated: “Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.”

Last year, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) acknowledged that an anti-Islam film should not have been used in training offered to security personnel by that military law enforcement agency.

CAIR contacted NCIS after receiving a report that a three-day NCIS surveillance detection course at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., included the viewing of a propagandistic anti-Islam film.

Today, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security announced that they would seek accurate, effective counteterrorism training in a post on their official website. 

The Muslim Public Affairs Council immediately issued the following press release supporting the announcement by the Homeland Security Committee that there would be a Senate inquiry into the funding of counter-terrorism training.  Here is that press release:

(Washington, DC – 3/30/11)—The Muslim Public Affairs Council today commended leading Homeland Security Committee Sens. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for sending a letter to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, asking for an inquiry into federal funds going to flawed counterterrorism training to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“We are extremely pleased to see the Senate’s inquiry into such flawed and biased training,” said MPAC Government & Policy Analyst Alejandro J. Beutel. “In the realm of counterterrorism, ideology and bias are no substitute for hard facts and sober analysis.”

The letter, addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, voices concern over taxpayer funds being wasted on flawed and ineffective terrorism training with several programs focusing on maligning Islam as a religion and not actually addressing the issue of counterterrorism.

It reads, in part:

“Preliminary inquiries by our staffs suggest that improper training may not be limited to mere isolated occurrences. We are concerned that at best, the quality of training is inconsistent, and at worst, is actually detrimental to our efforts to confront homegrown terrorism. Muslim Americans are central allies in our fight against violent Islamist extremism, and any training that implies otherwise is both inaccurate and counterproductive to our shared goals.”

The Senate inquiry comes in the wake of its report on the Fort Hood shooting, which found that a lack of proper training was partly to blame for the intelligence failure behind the attack. The inquiry also comes on the heels of two reports by Political Research Associates, a Boston-based think tank, and the Washington Monthly detailing the extensive nature of the waste on such flawed training.

According to the Political Research Associates report:

“In place of sound skills training and intelligence briefings, a vocal and influential sub-group of the private counterterrorism training industry markets conspiracy theories about secret Jihadi campaigns to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law, and effectively impugns all of Islam — a world religion with 1.3 billion adherents — as inherently violent and even terroristic.”

UPDATE 4/6/2011

State Senator Greg Ball (R-NY), chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Reviewing our Preparedness: An Examination of New York’s Public Protection Ten Years After September 11”  on April 8th. 

Among the “experts” he has called to testify are Rep. Peter King, Frank Gaffney, and Nonie Darwish.  Eleven democratic senators have sent a letter to Senator Ball objecting to the inclusion of such individuals.  You can see the full text of the letters back and forth here.  For some reason Darwish will apparently speak at the event under the pseudonym “Nahid Hyde.”

Here is the press release from Sen. Parkers office about their letter to Sen. Ball:

Senators Urge Chairman Ball To Reject Bigotry

(Brooklyn, NY) Today, Senator Kevin Parker was joined by Senators Tony Avella, Adriano Espaillat, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Liz Krueger, Velmanette Montgomery, Jose Peralta, Bill Perkins, Gustavo Rivera, Diane Savino, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a letter to Senator Greg Ball opposing the participation of Nonie Darwish and Frank Gaffney in upcoming hearings before the Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs Committee. On April 8, 2011, Senator Ball will hold a hearing, “Reviewing our Preparedness: An Examination of New York’s Public Protection Ten Years After September 11.”

Regrettably, he includes a topic not germane to the security of New York, Shariah (Islamic law). The Chairman has invited Nonie Darwish, an individual unqualified to speak on Islamic jurisprudence and has a long record of using racist and incendiary language that has no place before any committee of the State Senate. Ms. Darwish has referred to Islam as “not a true religion” and to President Obama’s mother as a “radical” for marrying a Muslim. She told the New York Times in an August 7, 2010 article: “A mosque is not just a place for worship. It’s a place where war is started, where commandments to do jihad start, where incitements against non-Muslims occur. It’s a place where ammunition was stored.”

“I am greatly concerned that a committee of this Senate seeks to criminalize an entire faith tradition,” said Senator Parker. “Moreover, the individual selected by Chairman Ball lacks the credibility and credentials necessary for a substantive policy hearing,” continued Parker. “We in New York face serious challenges with regards to protecting our state, this portion of the hearing merely serves as a distraction.”

Although some seek to isolate and vilify Muslims, this diverse community has played an instrumental role since the founding of our nation. Today, hundreds of thousands of Muslim Americans are a part of the fabric of our state. They are our neighbors, physicians, entrepreneurs, educators, legislators and serve in law enforcement.

It is disconcerting that in the past two years, there has been a growth in vitriol against Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim. This coincides with an increase in violence and discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs, Arabs and other members of the South Asian community. Thus, I ask Chairman Ball to withdraw the invitation to Ms. Darwish and Mr. Gaffney, and call upon him to take this opportunity to hold hearings that truly address the safety and well-being for all New Yorkers,” said Parker.

David Freedlander reports that Ball defended the presence of Darwish, saying that “We have to understand who our enemy is, and we have to understand the culture of jihad and get beyond the feel-good politics of political correctness and have New Yorkers have a clear look at people who want to destroy our city and our state.”

Glenn Blain reports that Ball further defended Darwish’s inclusion by saying she spent more than 30 years in Egypt and is qualified to discuss Shariah law.

Amazing logic.  I suppose that means that since I have spent more than 60 years in the United States, than I am qualified to testify officially on Constitutional Law.

UPDATE 4/21/2011

Richard Bartholomew reports that Seattle and Las Vegas Police “Pull Out” of Counter-Terror Webinars due to concerns about the presenters and sponsors of these training sessions.

On April 6th, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) requested information on the federal funding of counterterrorism training programs following a report on trainers who espouse anti-Muslim views during training sessions for local cops.  Ryan J. Reilly reports that

Collins and Lieberman wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that they “are concerned with recent reports that state and local law enforcement agencies are being trained by individuals who not only do not understand the ideology of violent Islamist extremism but also cast aspersions on a wide swath of ordinary Americans merely because of their religious affiliation.”

“Media reports cite some of these self-appointed counterterrorism training experts as engaging in vitriolic diatribes and making assertions such as ‘Islam is a highly violent radical religion’ and that if someone has ‘different spellings of a name… That’s probable cause to take them in,’” Collins and Lieberman wrote, citing the story in the Washington Monthly. “These comments, of course, are neither factually accurate nor consistent with our nation’s fundamental values and are not made by adequately trained personnel. It appears, however, that some of these so-called experts have neither the academic nor operational background in the material about which they train.”

UPDATE 11/2011

The Westminster Institute reports that  Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-02); Rep. Dan Burton (IN-05); Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03); Rep. Randy Forbes (VA-04); Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-02); Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01); Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12); Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14); Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-03); Rep. John Kline (MN-02); Rep. Bill Posey (FL-15); Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46); Rep. Allen West (FL-22); Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03); Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10) all signed a letter sent to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Attorney General Eric Holder objecting to changes being made to training programs. 

According to the press release from Rep. Myrick’s office included in this article:

In the letter, Members expressed concern that any review and subsequent changes to the Administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) training may be influenced by politics and public perception, directly threatening our country’s national security.

Members also supported a February 2011 Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs report, which recommended that the Department of Defense “update its policies on extremism and religions accommodation to ensure that violent Islamist extremism is not tolerated”, and “train servicemembers on violent Islamist extremism and how it differs from Islamic religious belief and practices.”



The anti-Muslim fearmongering we can’t see, Tarso Ramos
Anti-Terrorism Training Draws Scrutiny (The Washington Times)
CAIR Decries Anti-Muslim Police Trainers
CAIR Seeks Probe of Anti-Islam Bias in Military Training
Coalition to Challenge NYPD Use of Anti-Muslim Film,%20March%2026,%202011,%20Coalition%20to%20Challenge%20NYPD%20Use%20of%20Anti-Muslim%20Film.htm
Coalition Letter to Director Mueller
Collins, Lieberman demand answers on anti-Muslim police trainers, Esther Kaplan,_lieberman_demand_answers_on_anti-muslim_police_trainers
Counterproductive Counterterrorism: Counterproductive CounterterrorismHow Anti-Muslim Bias is Undermining America’s Homeland Security, MPAC
Does Course on Islam Give Law Enforcers Wrong Idea? (Seattle Times)
Federal Funds For Counterterrorism Training Pay For Anti-Muslim Instructors, Ryan J. Reilly
How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam.  There aren’t nearly enough counterterrorism experts to instruct all of America’s police.
So we got these guys instead,  Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze  (about Sam Kharoba)
Islam-Bashing Bigots Train Counterterrorism Agents
Manufacturing the Muslim Menace
Monitoring America (Wash. Post)
New Concern About Bias in Counterterror Training (NPR)
NYPD Cops’ Training Included an Anti-Muslim Horror Flick 
“Senators Seek Accurate, Effective Counterterrorism Training” (Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs)
The Shocking Way US Cops Are Trained to Hate Muslims
Teaching police to fear Islam, Alyona Show (video)
Top Secret America a Washington Post study 
US counter-terrorism training ‘presents Islam as inherently violent’, Ed Pilkington

A Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry

The American Muslim (TAM) has collected information about these individuals in this easy to use format.  Just click on the links provided to go to in-depth articles and backgrounders on these individuals.  There are a number of other individuals who should be included here, and they will be added, and this will be updated as time permits.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali - see TAM Responses collection

Zachariah Anani *

Glenn Beck (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Phyllis Chessler *

Ann Coulter (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Nonie Darwish *

Alan Dershowitz - see TAM Responses collection

Steven Emerson and the Investigative Project **

Brigitte Gabriel and ACT for America ***

Dave Gaubatz *

Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy **** and *****

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs and SIOA ***

Sean Hannity (media) - see TAM Responses collection

David Horowitz *****

Charles Jacobs and Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America CAMERA and David Project **

Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy ***
Note:  Jasser is a Muslim, and defines himself as a devout Muslim, nevertheless his actions and statements separate him from the mainstream American Muslim community, and at the very least play into the hands of the Islamophobes

Rev. Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Christian Center *

Joe Kaufman - see TAM Responses collection

Charles Krauthammer (media)  - see TAM Responses collection

Michelle Malkin (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Bill O’Reilly (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Marty Peretz (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Daniel Pipes ****

Kamal Saleem *

Michael Savage (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Debbie Schlussel - see TAM Responses collection

Stephen Schwartz and Center for Islamic Pluralism - see TAM Responses collection

Walid Shoebat **

Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch ***

Mark Steyn (media) - see TAM Responses collection

Wafa Sultan - see TAM Responses collection

Bat Y’eor **

David Yerushalmi and SANE ****

Those in bold are key figures


Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives for a lengthy list of anti-Muslim, Islamobophic quotes by elected representatives and government representativesChristian brotherly love is difficult for some to obtain for anti-Muslim quotes by Christians including Christian clergypeopleJewish “Ahavah shel achvah” Brotherly Love is Difficult for Some to Attain for anti-Muslim quotes by Jews including Rabbis.