MPAC & Interfaith Leaders Meet with FBI Director Mueller to Address Concerns Regarding Training Materials

Coalition Demands Continued Transparency

February 15, 2012

On Feb. 8, MPAC along with other community and interfaith organizations met with FBI Director Robert Mueller and the FBI’s Public Affairs Office in an effort to address concerns regarding the agency’s use of inflammatory training material. The FBI provided an update on steps it has taken to rectify the matter including an extensive review and update of its material.

SEE: “FBI Purges Hundreds of Terrorism Documents in Islamophobia Probe” (Wired)

The meeting focused on the agency’s use of training material that depicts falsehoods and negative connotations of the Muslim American community. The use of the material was first uncovered by Wired in an article published on Sept. 14, 2011, “FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’ ”

Mueller told MPAC, along with representatives from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Arab American Institute, Interfaith Alliance, the Islamic Society of North America, Muflehun and the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign, that the FBI took the training material review seriously and pursued the matter with urgency to  ensure this does not occur again.  

“Mueller and the FBI’s assurance of the review and update of the training material is a step in the right direction,” said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC President. “However it is a travesty that the Muslim American community has lost trust with an agency that is here to protect us. Concerned citizens will continue to report criminal activities to authorities, but now the element of mistrust has been embedded in the relationship. This undermines our pluralism, which is the best defense against any transnational ideological threat.”

Mueller said that to date, nearly all related FBI training materials, including more than 160,000 pages of documents, were reviewed by subject matter experts multiple times. More than 700 documents and 300 presentations of material have been deemed unusable and pulled from the training curriculum. Material was pulled from the curriculum if one component was deemed to include factual errors, be in poor taste, be stereotypical or lack precision.

The changes proposed by the FBI to the training modules are a welcomed first step in ensuring that such a mistake does not occur again. The group also asked the FBI Director to issue a formal statement acknowledging the negative impact of these training materials on the Muslim American community.  The group assembled stressed the importance of transparency by the Bureau in dealing with these matters in the future, and suggested that a committee of community leaders and experts be assembled to review the FBI’s training material. They also requested future meetings with Mueller to continue the conversation.  

To date these asks have not been met or acknowledged, but MPAC and the other interfaith and community organizations are committed to working with the FBI to correct this grave mistake.

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