President Obama’s refusal to associate Islam with the prime terror threat the Western world faces manifest itself in his Department of Homeland Security’s program called Countering Violent Extremism.
The euphemistic name underscored the administration’s premise that white supremacists and other fringe movements are just as much a threat to the nation’s security as people who carry out violent attacks in America and around the world in the name of Allah.
Now, according to five sources briefed on the matter who spoke to Reuters, the Trump administration is about to make good on its promise to “name the enemy” with a plan to change the name of the program to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.”
Reuters reported a source who has worked closely with the DHS on Countering Violent Extremism said Trump transition team members brought up the change when they met with a CVE task force in December.
Islam expert Robert Spencer, editor of Jihad Watch, said that what Trump is doing is “reversing Obama’s bow to Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups in scrubbing counter-terror training materials of all mention of Islam and jihad.”
Spencer noted that in 2011, a number of U.S.-based Muslim groups delivered a letter written by Muslim activist and former Senate aide Ferhana Khera to John Brennan, who was then the assistant to the president on National Security for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, complaining of the federal government’s “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam.”
The astonishing “purge” is recounted by former DHS officer Philip Haney in “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.” Get it now at the WND Superstore!
Among the “woefully misinformed statements about Islam and bigoted stereotypes about Muslims” in FBI training was the assertion that there “may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox theology” and the “strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.”
Spencer recalled that Brennan accepted Khera’s criticisms without protest and assured her the government would comply.
Among the actions Brennan promised to undertake were “collecting all training materials that contain cultural or religious content, including information related to Islam or Muslims.”
But Spencer pointed out that in reality, “this material wouldn’t just be ‘collected’; it would be purged of anything that Farhana Khera and others like her found offensive.”
“Honest, accurate discussion of how Islamic jihadists use Islamic teachings to justify violence would no longer be allowed,” he said.
The letter was signed by the leaders of 57 Muslim, Arab and South Asian organizations, including many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Relief USA, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR.
WND reported this week CAIR – a terrorist organization, according to the United Arab Emirates – is calling on Muslim American citizens re-entering the United States to refuse to answer the questions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers if they are taken aside for secondary screening.
In 2011, CAIR’s San Francisco chapter featured a poster on its website urging Muslims to “build a wall of resistance” against the FBI by refusing to talk to the bureau’s agents.
The FBI severed ties with CAIR in 2008 after the U.S. Justice Department named the Washington-based group an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal scheme led by the Holy Land Foundation to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas suicide bombers and their families.
‘Targeting a faith group’
Reuters further reported Thursday that in a meeting last week attended by senior staff for DHS Secretary John Kelly, government employees were asked to defend why they chose certain community organizations as recipients of Countering Violent Extremism grants.
The source said the money might not be delivered, even though it was appropriated by Congress and the grant recipients were notified in the final days of the Obama administration.
Reuters reported Kelly is reviewing the matter.
Hoda Hawa, director of policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told Reuters she was informed by DHS officials last week of the intent to refocus CVE on Islamic terrorism.
“That is concerning for us because they are targeting a faith group and casting it under a net of suspicion,” she said.
Spencer pointed out that in her 2011 letter, Khera complained about him specifically, noting his books could be found in the FBI’s library at its training academy in Quantico, Virginia, and that he presented lectures on the beliefs of Islamic jihadists to the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council.
“These were supposed to be terrible materials because I was supposedly bigoted and hateful,” Spencer said. “However, many of the examples Khera adduced of ‘bigoted and distorted materials’ involved statements that were simply accurate.”
Philip Haney, a former DHS subject-matter expert on Islam, also has first-hand knowledge of the “purge” carried out by his agency.
Material he entered into the DHS main database of intelligence was stripped of references deemed offensive to Muslims and in some cases completely eliminated.
“Donald Trump is giving the American public permission to name the threat that we face without fear of suffering adverse consequences,” Haney told WND in response to the Reuters report.
“Now if we see something, we are authorized to actually say something.”
Haney told his story last June at a Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, titled “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.”
In his first opportunity to ask questions, Cruz told Haney his testimony before the committee was “exceptionally important.”
“I commend both members of the media and the American public to examine your testimony closely, because you have described a systematic policy, indeed of scrubbing, sanitizing, erasing references to radical Islam,” Cruz told the recently retired DHS officer.
Haney said a highly successful case he helped develop as a member of one of the National Targeting Center’s advanced units was shut down by Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties out of concern for the “rights” of foreign Muslims. And after Haney retired honorably in 2015, he discovered that had his case continued, it might have prevented both the Orlando and the San Bernardino attacks.
Along with the quashing of the case in June 2012, the administration subsequently ordered the deletion of an additional 67 records concerning a related network.
Haney has pointed out that many mainstream Muslim groups in the United States have emphatically renounced the DHS signature motto of “See Something, Say Something” and its Countering Violence Extremism policy, claiming that the approach is biased and stigmatizes Muslims.
The author of the 2011 letter delivered to Brennan, Khera, who is president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, also testified at the “Willful Blindness” hearing.
She previously served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she worked for six years for Sen. Russell D. Feingold, D-Wis. According to a bio posted by the Islamic Society of North America, ISNA, while working with the Senate, she “focused substantially on the USA PATRIOT Act, racial and religious profiling, and other civil liberties issues raised by the government’s anti-terrorism policies since September 11th.”
In her prepared testimony, she said the “use of bigoted trainers and materials in the recent past is not only highly offensive, disparaging the faith of millions of Americans, but leads to biased policing that targets individuals and communities based on religion, rather than based upon evidence of wrongdoing.”