The FBI's refusal to identify three Islamic experts involved in purging "offensive" material from training manuals has triggered concerns that the Bureau has delegated this responsibility to Islamist organizations.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., points to the FBI's history of "community outreach" with organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in asking whether people linked to those groups have been involved in training U.S. counter-terror agents.
CAIR and ISNA, who have been among the most vocal critics of the manuals, were named unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007-08 terror-finance prosecutions of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). Five senior HLF officials were convicted of participating in a conspiracy to funnel more than $12 million to Hamas and sentenced to long prison terms.
Since 2008, the FBI has had a policy of not dealing with CAIR because of the group's connections with Hamas documented in the HLF case. There is no such ban on dealings with ISNA.
The Washington Examiner reported this week that the FBI still refuses to name the trio of Islamic experts tasked with removing the purportedly objectionable material from the training manuals. Gohmert, vice-chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, suspects that the Bureau is reluctant to provide the information because these experts "were people who cannot be trusted, who could not pass a security check."
ISNA spokeswoman Sarah Thompson said that since September, the organization's president, Imam Mohammed Magid, and other ISNA representatives have participated in meetings about the revisions with Department of Justice or FBI officials on the training issue. One was a Feb. 8 meeting involving FBI Director Robert Mueller and groups that included representatives of ISNA and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
MPAC's website links to a Feb. 8 article which said that the FBI had purged hundreds of terrorism documents as part of its efforts to root out "Islamophobia." As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported at the time, the destroyed material included articles and PowerPoint presentations describing the Muslim Brotherhood's efforts to achieve world domination and presentations defining jihad as "holy war."
For her part, Thompson denied that any of the ISNA representatives had a role in reviewing any of the materials or the standards for judging them.
The subject is likely to be raised when FBI officials testify before the full House Judiciary Committee at a May 9 oversight hearing.