FBI’s bus ads taken down over Muslim/terrorist stereotyping

After a wave of criticism from politicians, advocacy groups and the public, 46 bus ads featuring photos of wanted terrorists will be taken down within the next few weeks, officials said Tuesday.

The “Faces of Global Terrorism” ad was criticized for promoting stereotypes of Muslims and painting a broad brush against one group.

The ad is part of a campaign launched earlier this month by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force for the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program. It features 16 photos of wanted terrorists sandwiched between the taglines “Faces of Global Terrorism” and “Stop a Terrorist. Save Lives. Up to $25 Million Reward.”

The decision to remove the bus ads was “a result of our continued engagement with the community and the feedback we are getting,” FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt said.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott wrote a letter last week to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concern over the ads, saying the ad would “only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim-Americans.”

“When you start saying that this is the face of terrorism, you are really stigmatizing a whole group of people,” McDermott, D-Seattle, said Tuesday.

King County Metro received a half-dozen complaints through the customer information line, Switzer said.

At FBI, 876 pages of agent training material related to Muslims found offensive or inaccurate

WASHINGTON — An FBI review of agent training material critical of Islam uncovered 876 offensive or inaccurate pages that had been used in 392 presentations, including a PowerPoint slide that said the bureau can sometimes bend or suspend the law.

The bureau has not released the material, but Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois described a few pages of it in a letter asking FBI Director Robert Mueller to institute five changes so that inappropriate FBI training on Islam doesn’t happen again. On Friday, the FBI confirmed the number of inaccurate or offensive pages and presentations.

The bureau also said the documents that are either offensive or inaccurate have been taken out of training presentations. Earlier this month, the FBI posted on its website a set of training principles which said that training must emphasize that religious expression, protest activity and the espousing of ideological beliefs “are constitutionally protected activities that must not be equated with terrorism or criminality” in the absence of other information about such offenses.

FBI, Muslims report progress over training materials

FBI officials say they are willing to consider a proposal from a coalition of Muslim and interfaith groups to establish a committee of experts to review materials used in FBI anti-terrorism training.

The coalition raised the idea during a Feb 8 meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller, who met with the groups to discuss pamphlets, videos and other anti-terrorism training materials that critics say are either Islamophobic or factually incorrect.

“We’re open to the idea, but they need to submit a proposal first,” said Christopher Allen, an FBI spokesman who was in the meeting.
Groups at the meeting included the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Interfaith Alliance, and the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign.

Mueller told representatives of the groups that FBI experts had reviewed almost all of the agency’s training materials, including 160,000 pages of documents. More than 700 documents and 300 presentations were subsequently pulled from the agency’s training materials.
Materials that were pulled contained incorrect or imprecise information, were stereotypical, or “in poor taste,” the FBI said.

FBI director says Muslim-American relations good

FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged tension between his department and some in Muslim-American community over recent anti-terrorism tactics, but said that cooperation remains strong toward the shared goal of preventing attacks. “I would say we’re on the same page… While there may be some bumps I the road periodically, overall the relationship is exceptionally good,” said Mueller. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has been recently critical of FBI tactics it says only alienate Muslim-Americans, such as sending paid informants, some with criminal pasts, into mosques to try to identify members who might be swayed by fiery rhetoric or financial gain.