By Scott Shane, NY Times
WASHINGTON — Rolling out a new strategy for combating radicalization, White House officials on Wednesday warned that casting broad suspicion on Muslim Americans is counterproductive and could backfire by alienating a religious minority and fueling extremism.
The administration also promised to identify accurate educational materials about Islam for law enforcement officers, providing an alternative to biased and ill-informed literature in use in recent years, including by the F.B.I. Denis R. McDonough, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters that Al Qaeda and those it inspired remained the biggest terrorist threat inside the United States. But he said the bombing and shootings in Norway last month, carried out by a right-wing, anti-Muslim extremist, were a reminder that the government could not focus exclusively on any single brand of radicalism.
Mr. McDonough said that Al Qaeda had a “bankrupt ideology,” but that accusing the entire Muslim community of complicity in terrorism could “feed the sense of disenchantment and disenfranchisement that may spur violent extremist radicalization.” Instead, he said, Muslim Americans should be treated as a crucial ally of the government in combating extremism....
...A National Security Council expert on extremism who helped devise the new strategy, Quintan Wiktorowicz, said the administration was aware of “inaccurate training” on Islam for law enforcement officers. He said the administration would compile “gold standard” materials to be posted on the Web for officials to draw upon.
A January study by a liberal research group found a pattern of misleading and inflammatory training about Islam across the country, and a 2009 F.B.I. training document obtained recently by the American Civil Liberties Union gave a provocative account of Islam. That F.B.I. PowerPoint presentation was used for classes for law enforcement personnel at the bureau’s academy in Virginia, but it is no longer in use, according to the bureau.
The F.B.I. document recommended two books by Robert Spencer, an anti-Muslim blogger and author whose work was repeatedly cited in the online manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian accused of killing at least 76 people last month. Mr. Spencer, who operates the Web site Jihad Watch, has said he opposes violence and condemns Mr. Breivik’s actions.
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