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FBI counter-terrorism agents in Florida attended a “sensitivity training” workshop yesterday conducted by a controversial Islamic lobby group.
Although it has been described by two former FBI counter-terrorism chiefs as a spin-off of a U.S. front for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, led the workshop on “Islam and the American Muslim community” at the FBI’s Jacksonville Division All Employee Conference.
CAIR’s Florida branch, CAIR-FL, said in a statement that “more than 150 law enforcement agents, including FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force supervisory personnel, attended the workshop that examined basic Islamic beliefs and concepts, common stereotypes of Islam and Muslims and ways in which to improve interactions with the Muslim community.”
“This type of positive interaction between law enforcement officials and the Muslim community helps break down barriers to communication and promotes mutual understanding,” said CAIR-FL Chairman Parvez Ahmed.
Ahmed said his group wants to expand the program to help train law enforcement authorities in other parts of the state.
Officers already have been trained in Miami and in other states, including Kentucky, where 13 FBI agents received training in Lexington in October.
The training is part of a campaign by CAIR to counteract what it sees as widespread anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States. A report released last year, titled “Guilt by Association,” blasted the Bush administration for government policies that unfairly single out Muslim individuals and organizations” – a charge denied by the Justice Department.
CAIR claimed that when compared to the year preceding Sept. 11, its 2002 report on bias or hate-related incidents against Muslims showed a 64 percent increase.
Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez told WorldNetDaily, on the contrary, he saw a vastly improving situation in “backlash” incidents since a “spike” in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
As WorldNetDaily reported last year, the FBI put its agents and new recruits through a Muslim sensitivity program that included inviting Muslim clerics and leaders to preach about the allegedly peaceful attributes of Islam.
National Arab-American and Muslim leaders have made presentations at an FBI training course on civil rights in Washington D.C., and at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va., as part of “Enrichment Training Sessions” for new special agents there.
In addition, the imam of a large Manhattan mosque has lectured veteran counterterrorism investigators at the FBI’s New York field office about misinterpretation of the meaning of jihad in the Koran, the sacred book of Muslims.
The sensitivity training program, denounced by some active and former agents, was mandated last year by FBI Director Robert Mueller.
FBI headquarters defends the program as a way to reach out to the Muslim community in America.
“I hate the word ‘sensitivity’ training,” said FBI spokesman Ed Cogswell. “I would call it an awareness training relative to cultural issues.”
Organizer of holy warriors
Since 9-11, CAIR, a spin-off of the Islamic Association For Palestine, has seen three of its former employees indicted on federal terrorism charges.
Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges he trained in Virginia for holy war against the United States and sent several members to Pakistan to join Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri terrorist group with reported ties to al-Qaida.
In a plea bargain, Royer claimed he never intended to hurt anyone but admitted he organized the holy warriors after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
After his arrest, Royer sought legal counsel from Hamas lawyer Stanley Cohen, who said after 9-11 he would consider serving as a defense lawyer for Osama bin Laden if the al-Qaida leader were captured.
Another CAIR figure, Bassem Khafagi, was arrested in January 2003 while serving as the group’s director of community relations. The previous December, Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was indicted for financial ties to Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook.
Current CAIR leaders also have made statements in support of Hamas and the domination of the U.S. by Islam.
As WorldNetDaily reported, CAIR’s chairman of the board, Omar Ahmad, was cited by a California newspaper in 1998 declaring the Quran should be America’s highest authority.
He also was reported to have said Islam is not in America to be equal to any other religion but to be dominant.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper indicated in a 1993 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he wants to see the United States become a Muslim country.
“I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future,” Hooper told the paper. “But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”