Connect with us

News and Views

How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam

Abu Reem

Published

Next time, a cop sees you and wants to check out how high your pants are (above the ankles or not), you can safely bet that he has been “trained” by an Islamophobia-“trainer”. This stuff is really scary and provides more background on how Islamophobia is spreading so rapidly.

How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam

There aren’t nearly enough counterterrorism experts to instruct all of America’s police. So we got these guys instead.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

By Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze

On a bright January morning in 2010, at Broward College in Davie, Florida, about sixty police officers and other frontline law enforcement officials gathered in a lecture hall for a course on combating terrorism in the Sunshine State. Some in plain clothes, others in uniform, they drifted in clutching Styrofoam cups of coffee, greeting acquaintances from previous statewide training sessions. The instructor, Sam Kharoba, an olive-skinned man wearing rimless glasses and an ill-fitting white dress shirt, stood apart at the front of the hall reviewing PowerPoint slides on his laptop.

As he got under way, Kharoba described how, over the next three days, he would teach his audience the fundamentals of Islam. “We constantly hear statements,” Kharoba began, “that Islam is a religion of peace, and we constantly hear of jihadists who are trying to kill as many non-Muslims as they can.” Kharoba’s course would establish for his students that one of these narratives speaks to a deep truth about Islam, and the other is a calculated lie.

“How many terror attacks have there been since 9/11? Muslim terror attacks,” Kharoba asked the room. Silence. “Let’s start the bidding.”

“Over a hundred,” someone volunteered.

“I got a hundred,” Kharoba called back. Another audience member, louder now, suggested three hundred.

“Three hundred!” Kharoba declared.

“Over a thousand,” offered another voice in the audience.

Kharoba stopped the bidding. “Over thirteen thousand,” he said. “Over thirteen thousand attacks.” He paused to let the statistic sink in.

Kharoba belongs to a growing profession, one that is ballooning on the spigot of federal and state dollars set aside for counterterrorism efforts since the attacks of September 11, 2001. He is a counterterrorism instructor to America’s beat cops, one of several hundred working the law enforcement training circuit. Some are employed by large security contractors; others, like Kharoba, are independent operators.

Kharoba was born in Jordan, and he likes to intimate that members of his family are important tribal leaders. This lends a veneer of insider credibility to classroom remarks that might otherwise seem like off-color jokes. He showed the class some photographs taken in the Gaza Strip. “This is the Arab version of a line,” Kharoba told the students, gesturing to a photo of Palestinians rushing toward a passport agency. Then he showed a YouTube video of two uniformed men beating a nameless prisoner. “This is what Miranda rights are in the Arab world,” he said.

Fortunately for an adept American police officer, Kharoba said, jihadists telegraph their extremist intentions in altogether predictable ways. One only has to learn the signs. Take Mahmoud—Kharoba’s preferred name for a generic Muslim. Kharoba can tell whether Mahmoud is a Wahhabi (a member of a fundamentalist Islamic sect from Saudi Arabia) just by going through Mahmoud’s trash. There will be no pre-approved credit card offers, because interest is forbidden in Islam. There will be no brown wax fried-chicken bags, because fried chicken isn’t halal. For Kharoba, extremist Muslims are as easy to spot as American gang members.

“When you see a bunch of guys in red, what do you know?” Kharoba asked.

“They are Bloods,” responded the audience, many of whom deal with gangs regularly.

“When you have a Muslim that wears a headband, regardless of color or insignia, basically what that is telling you is ‘I am willing to be a martyr.’” There were other signs, too. “From the perspective of operational security, there are two things I am always looking out for: a shaved body and moving lips,” he explained. “Some of the Pakistani hijackers shaved their whole bodies in a ritual of cleanliness. If their lips are moving, these guys are praying. As they are walking through an airport, every second they’re going to be praying.”

America today is too politically correct to acknowledge the reality of Islamic fanaticism, Kharoba said. “Would Islam be tolerated if everyone knew its true message?” he asked the class. “From a Muslim perspective, do you want non-Muslims to know the truth about Islam?”

“No!” came the audience reply.

“So what do Muslims do?” Kharoba demanded.

“Lie!”

Kharoba strode forward to the front of the room, his voice slower now, more measured. “Islam is a highly violent radical religion that mandates that all of the earth must be Muslim.”

The class broke for lunch.

That afternoon, Kharoba offered more tips on how to detect violent Muslims. “You remember the Alligator Alley incident?” he asked.

He was referring to the events of September 13, 2002, when three Middle Eastern men at a Shoney’s restaurant in Calhoun, Georgia—one Jordanian, one Pakistani, and one Egyptian—were overheard talking about “bringing it down” to Miami. A nearby diner, one Eunice Stone, became alarmed and contacted the Georgia highway patrol. In what became a terrorist scare with national coverage, the police pulled the three men over on Alligator Alley, the long section of Interstate 75 that cuts west across Florida. For thirteen hours, the police combed the vehicle for explosives.

Kharoba projected a picture of Ayman Gheith, one of the arrested men, onto the screen. “The first thing is facial hair,” Kharoba said. “Do you see how the moustache is trimmed, and the beard is in a cone shape? It is very common to have this beard, and the moustache will always be the same, just like Muhammad.”

There is only one problem with the Alligator Alley case—a problem Kharoba never mentioned to the class. The incident was a false alarm. The “terrorists” turned out to be medical students on their way to a conference in Miami. They were innocent. After thirteen hours of interrogation, the police released them. Kharoba, however, taught the class that Ayman Gheith was a “textbook case” of Islamic fanaticism.

While his views are entirely his own, the fact that Kharoba is teaching this course at all reflects a sweeping shift in America’s official thinking about law enforcement and intelligence gathering. In recent years, the United States has become more and more committed to the idea of bringing local police forces into the business of sniffing out terrorists. In 2002, the National Joint Terrorism Task Force was set up to coordinate existing collaborative efforts among federal, state, and local law enforcement. And since 2006, the Department of Justice has been developing a program called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, through which local cops are meant to act as intelligence gatherers on the ground, feeding reports of suspicious activity to a network of data “fusion centers” spread out across the country. The system is scheduled to be up and running in all seventy-two of the nation’s fusion centers by the end of this year. But in order for the cops to play a role in counterterrorism, the thinking goes, they need to be trained. And that’s where Kharoba and his ilk—counterterrorism trainers for hire—come in.

The very idea of integrating local police into the nation’s counterterror intelligence efforts is a subject of debate among security experts. People at the highest level of law enforcement and intelligence—to say nothing of civil liberties groups—have concerns about the strategy. While the premise is perhaps intuitively appealing—particularly in a place like Florida, where several of the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons—one danger is that the system will be flooded with bad leads. An increase in incidents like the mistaken arrests on Alligator Alley would only degrade police work, obscure real threats, and spoil relations between America’s cops and America’s Muslims—who have thus far volunteered some of the most fruitful leads in preventing domestic terror attacks.

It might be theoretically possible to ward off such an outcome if police could be provided with impeccable training. But one of the central problems is that the demand for training far exceeds the supply of qualified instructors. Even the CIA and FBI have had trouble finding people with the key skills to fill their ranks. For state and local law enforcement departments, the scarcity is even more acute. Into the void, self-styled experts have rushed in.

While expertise in counterterrorism training may be in short supply, money for it is not. Each year the federal government directs billions of dollars (no one knows exactly how much) in terrorism-related training grants to state and local governments. These funds cascade down into myriad training programs like the one at Broward College, where instructors like Kharoba ply their trade with only minimal supervision.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umm Yusuf

    March 4, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    Subhan’Allah that was very interesting.

    I am curious- what is Muslim Matters suggesting as the best way forward for our current predicament with islamophobia on such an increase as demonstrated by the Orange County gathering and with how the police are stereo typing potential “terrorists”.

    Should we be offering our own courses on how to spot “trouble makers” and taking the lead in educating the various security personnel?

    Barak’Allahu feekum

  2. Avatar

    fugstar

    March 4, 2011 at 6:02 AM

    Yikes! I thought quillium were bad.

  3. Avatar

    Noma

    March 5, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Is Kharoba Muslim? If he is I can’t believe how much it seems he is bashing his religion. I understand being suspicious of terrorism but his example of Alligator Alley was horrible since it left out the fact that it was a false alarm.

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 5, 2011 at 2:48 AM

      No he is not a Muslim. He is a Jordanian Christian.

      If he was smarter, he would have claimed to be a Muslim in his previous life and make more money that way!

      • Avatar

        Jake

        March 5, 2011 at 8:48 PM

        He is a Palestinian-Jordanian and a shame for many of us Jordanians. The Kharoba family is a small family that was refuged from Jaffa, Palestine in 1948. He does not come from a large tribe with many leaders as he claims.

  4. Avatar

    Brother

    March 5, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Well, if this is what is being taught to police officers, then I guess I’m going to have a heck of time next time I’m pulled over.

  5. Avatar

    Jake

    March 5, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    What a thief and a shame. He is a classical orientalist attempting to profit with hate and racism. Also, the Kharoba family are not tribal leaders in Jordan. They are a small Palestinian-Jordanian family that was evicted (or fled) from Jaffa in 1948.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

..

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending