Controversial training material about Islam provided to a small pool of FBI agents at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. were inappropriate and offensive, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress today.
The briefing documents, first revealed by Wired’s Danger Room blog, emphasized that mainstream Muslims are violent, and included a graphic that shows that Muslims who are, “Pious and Devout” have tended to be more violent historically than Christians or Jews. The briefing slides noted, “Jihad is motivated by the strategic themes and drivers in Islam,” while another described the prophet Mohammad as a “Cult Leader.”
The FBI has previously said that the use of such the training materials was quickly halted. But Mueller expressed his concern about the training materials today, appearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Questioned by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., about the training materials, Mueller said, “I think that’s a very valid concern. And as I have pointed out, I think this is an unusual, very unusual occasion. And this particular instance the individual who gave the training – reports of what had been in that training came to – came up from the students and we took action to assure that that inappropriate, offensive content was not provided to others.
“I think these are isolated incidents, and in the course of that review we’ve had outreach to academicians and others to assist us in reviewing the materials and assuring that that offensive — that offensive content does not appear,” Mueller said. “We have 34,000 employees and we do a great deal of training. We understand the sensitivity and the importance of assuring that that training that we give to our persons are appropriate. … I believe these were unusual circumstances, but we are doing everything we can to do a top-to-bottom review of that training to assure we eliminate any of it.”
Mueller said that the FBI needed diverse training for FBI agents to identify future threats. “It should not be based on religion; it should not be based on religious characteristics. But, nonetheless, we have an obligation to identify those particular characteristics that might give us a warning as to a person who will undertake an attack against the United States.
“It’s not necessarily the international terrorism side alone.” Mueller said of the range of threats the FBI faces. “We have militants within the United States … and there’s a certain amount of investigation that has to be done to enable us to identify those persons who would undertake the attacks against the United States. But we want to assure, and I assure you that we want to do it in such a way that is consistent with our values.
“Our outreach over the years has been very successful, I think, in bridging the relationships with the Muslim-American community. And this is I think something that’s unfortunate, and we’ve addressed it,” Mueller said in defense of the FBI’s outreach to Muslim-Americans.
In previous congressional testimony, Mueller has discussed how the FBI has created specialized community outreach teams to work with specific groups in the United States such as the Muslim, South Asian and Sikh communities.