“Where does the hatred come from?”

By Eli Clifton and Daniel Luban

This fall, U.S. law enforcement personnel will have their final chance to take advantage of a rare opportunity. Participants will travel to Israel to receive “homeland security training,” but the counterterrorism briefings and martial arts practice sessions are only one part of the package. The program also includes visits to Christian religious sites in the Holy Land — an aspect likely to be especially attractive to Christian Zionists — along with other sites such as the Knesset and the Israeli “security fence”.

The Israel program is run by Security Solutions International (SSI), a group that has attracted controversy due to its ties to Islamophobic propaganda groups — as well as its apparent view that indoctrinating first responders with alarmist information about Islam is an essential part of counterterrorism training.

Most striking of all, the SSI Israel trip is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. DHS’s funding of this venture is a concrete illustration of the ways that Islamophobic fringe groups have exploited the “global war on terror” for their own purposes.

SSI advertises its DHS funding in its promotional material:

”The US Department of Homeland Security has given funding to the SSI trip – to the best of our knowledge the only trip to qualify by a private company. The program is approved for graduate and undergraduate college credits.

SSI’s Training in Israel has been attended by Police, Sheriffs, Emergency Management, Transportation, Fire, Joint Terrorism Task Forces, State Law Enforcement Agencies, Fortune 500 companies, DHS and many more. All of them say this training is the very best they have ever received.”

So what does this training involve? In addition to martial arts demonstrations (including “how to take down an armed suicide bomber”), meetings with Israeli security personnel, and a three-hour presentation on “suicide terror,” the itinerary also includes more tourist-oriented activities. Tourist excursions are both political (visits to the Knesset, the West Bank “security barrier,” and southern Israeli towns that have been the target of rocket attacks from Gaza), and religious (trips to Jerusalem’s Old City and to “some of Christianity’s holiest sites”).

While this DHS-funded trip might already seem a bit odd — especially the emphasis on Christian religious sites during what is ostensibly a counterterrorism training program — things take a turn towards the bizarre in the section of the website advertising SSI’s two day presentations on “The Islamic Jihadist Threat”.

“In a fascinating and insightful, packed two-day program, you are taken through the formative phases of the Islamic religion and will understand the different branches of Islam, understand how these were formed and on what ideology they are based. You are taken through a journey up to the present time, to really understand how extremism is organized in Radical Islam.

In addition, you will learn about Islamic Culture – knowledge that can help you build strong relationship with Islamic communities – most of whom can actually help detect radical threats:
– Where does the hatred come from?
– Arab naming conventions
– Jihad
– The Five Pillars of Islam
– Ramadan
– Domestic Terror groups
– International Terror groups
– Understanding the culture of Jihad

It’s hard to imagine how an introduction to Islam that begins with “where does the hatred come from?” could lead the audience to come away with anything but distrust and fear of Muslims.

Unsurprisingly, SSI has been criticized for the alarmist tenor of its “counterterrorism” training. It is not immediately obvious why the Appalachian State University campus security force, or the Yakima, WA police department — to take two representative names from SSI’s clients list — require a crash course in the fine points of jihadist ideology to do their jobs properly.

Critics have pointed out that the most likely effect of such training — particularly for law enforcement personnel who have never had significant contact with Muslims before — is to drum up hysteria, and increase the likelihood of a potentially tragic overreaction when they actually do encounter someone they presume to be Muslim.

As Arsalan Bukhari, president of the Washington state chapter of CAIR, told the Seattle Times: “Most police officers don’t have a basic grounding in Islam, so before you teach them about Islam, how can you teach them about radical Islam? It just makes you nervous because when a law-enforcement person pulls someone over, when they see a Muslim person or someone who appears Muslim to them — all this information they just learned kicks in.”

Given SSI’s ideology, readers may not be surprised to discover the Islamophobic company it keeps. SSI lists the Clarion Fund‘s film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West as a ”Patriot Partner”.

We have written extensively (here and here) about Obsession and its sequel, The Third Jihad, both of which propagate a fiercely Islamophobic message.

According to the SSI website, this fall’s Israel trip will be the last. Still, the religious emphasis of SSI’s trips, their propensity to view all of “Islamic Culture” through the prism of “where does the hatred come from?”, and their partnership with the “Obsession” project’s divisive anti-Muslim message, all raise serious questions about why this group has been receiving DHS funding in the first place.

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Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. It is interesting to note that the authors factually fail in this article on two signficant points. First, their source, Arsalan Bukhari is Hamas. He is the president of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington State. CAIR is a legally proven member of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas movement in the United States and an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Trial in Dallas, the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history. All defendants were found guilty in federal court in November 2008. Secondly, and most noteworthy, the unprofessional lack of due diligence by these authors is astounding regarding Islam. In Islamic Law, for instance, “Jihad” is defined as “warfare to establish the religion” and is obligatory for all Muslims until the world is claimed for Islam. There has never been any other definition for “jihad” in Islamic Law in any century in any language in any authoritative legal text. There is no factual basis to disagree with that. If we simply stop there, a reasonable person would see we have a problem and a significant national security need to (at a minimum) have an unemotional and factual discussion on this issue. However, the number one objective of the enemy in the “War on Terror” is to keep us from ever reading Islamic Law – the enemy’s doctrine. The standard is this: you must read Islamic Law written by a recognized Muslim authority for the Muslim Community. Easiest to get is “Reliance of the Traveller” (Amazon) which is the Um Dat al Salik, Sacred Islamic Law. While it might be okay for people on this chat space to state their uneducated opinion about Islamic Law, those folks who have sworn an oath to the Constitution to protect and defend it are held to a higher standard – they must take an unconstrained analytical look at what the enemy says is the doctrine they are using to kill us and subvert our government – Islamic Law.

  2. John D. Your ignorance and/or bigotry is astonishing. You are wrong, Jihad means struggle. Islam condemns wars of aggression. Let’s see, where have most of the West’s struggles with Islam occured, here in the West or in Islamic lands where the West has invaded and occupied foreign lands.

    You condemn Sharia, though you clearly know little of it, even more telling is your evident ignorance of your own traditions. Are you familiar with the book of Joshua. The Quran, Haddiths and Sharia contain nothing as repulsive as the Book of Joshua–you know where the Hebrews came to dinner under false pretenses, murder every man woman and child. Of the dozen cities razed and looted according to the Biblical accounts sometimes they killed all the animals other times they took them as booty. Similar inconsistencies are shown regarding their gold and other treasures.

    As to the Holy Land Foundation the Elashi brothers tried to engage in due dilligence seeking State Dept approval for a couple of computers they sent to Syria. They recieved that approval only to have it held against them later. A local White Christian reporter commented during the trial that the Red Cross should be charged under the odd claims made by Bush’s heavily poiticized Justice dept.

    The charities that HLF worked with in the occupied territories were all approved by Israel herself. Only to have these standards shifted for political convienience. The Gov’t showed images of Afghan Mujuhadeen from Reagan’s days conflating their US supported “jihad” with the HLF despite the fact that these Afgan warriors were active 12yrs before HLF was even formed.

    The first trial was a mistrial and the verdict you trumpet is under appeal. If and when this unjust verdict is reversed I imagine you won’t retract your accusals.

    The only wars allowed under Islam are defensive. Perhaps you are familiar with the “Go kill them where you find them.” verse. I wish you’d look up the context of that quote. The textual context so undermines this claim that anyone who’d take that out is totally disingenuous. Basically the verses read; if you are beset with people who violate their oaths, call for treaties and violate them, then it says go fight and kill them where you find them, but if they ask for a truce or peace you have no cause to fight them.

    All faiths are followed by flawed men. No human institution is perfect.
    But the claims you make of Islam are flatly wrong, I’ve studied the Quran, Haddiths and much of Sharia in Arabic and English. There are many who for political purposes will say anything to disparage Islam and Muslims.

    You ignore Jesus’ challenge for us to love our enemies and our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t know if you believe we have the right to invade other countries, support dictators and oppress, starve, humiliate and dominate an entire people as over 3000 IDF soldiers have charged. Christians, Muslims and Jews all proclaim the Golden Rule. It seems you think the US exceptional, elect, or chosen. I don’t know how anyone can reconcile that attitude with the Golden Rule.

    John Davidson, you have a lot of reasearch to do for you ignorance and bigotry are vast.

  3. Wow, John Davidson. How many SSI courses have you attended? You qualify as their poster boy.

  4. Scott, please attempt to join the land of reality, truth and facts. Your ignorance of the facts entered into evidence at the HLF trial (without an objection from the defense, making the documents true as a matter of law)is what is astonishing. For those on this chat space, the official link to all pertinent documents from HLF is http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/judges/hlf2.html. A review of key documents will reveal that HLF was a Hamas front, that the members were Muslim Brothers/Senior Hamas Operatives (linked directly to Hamas’ global leadership), that HLF and major Muslim organizations in America (ISNA, NAIT, CAIR, MSA, MAS, etc) were complicit in the Hamas Movement. Financial documents proving funds going directly from these Muslim organizations to Hamas overseas, recorded conversations of Hamas meetings in the US, documents obtained via search warrants, numerous testimonies from investigators, and evidence collected from across the globe was overwhelming. In sentencing the defendants (ALL FOUND GUILTY), the judge in the case reiterated that this was a Hamas front, supporting violence, and that the U.S. Muslim Organizations named on the unindicted co-conspirator list were complicit in these activities. It is likely some of those orgs will be indicted shortly. Your denial of this is a psychotic aversion of the facts.
    Regarding Islamic Law, I think it is appropriate to simply pull direct quotes out of authoritative Islamic Law to help you understand. [Source: Um Dat al Salik, Sacred Islamic Law]
    “…we certify that the above-mentioned translation corresponds to the Arabic original and conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community. There is no objection to printing it and circulating it.”
    AL-AZHAR ISLAMIC RESEARCH ACADEMY (note: this is the most prestigious school of Islamic Jurisprudence – and oldest – in the world).
    [Document 4, pages xx-xxi]

    “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion…
    The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus is such Koranic verses as:
    ‘Fighting is prescribed for you’ (2:216)
    ‘Slay them where you find them’ (4:89)
    ‘Fight the idolators utterly’ (9:36)”
    [Book O, Justice, o9.0, p599]

    “When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory for the (leader) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.”
    [Book O, Justice, o8.1 and o8.2]

    “The Objectives of Jihad. The caliph makes war upon Jews and Christians, and Zoroastrians (provided he has first invited them to enter Islam…)…
    ‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden…”
    [Book O, Justice, o9.8]

    “When an adult male is taken captive, the (leader) considers the intersts of Islam and the Muslims and decides between the prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exhange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy.”
    [Book O, Justice, o9.14]

    “Lying. Permissible Lying…it is permissible to lie when he goal is permissible..and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory.” (note: this applies only to lying to non-Muslims. Jihad is obligatory.)
    [Book R, Holding One’s Tongue, r8.0-r8.2, p744-745]

    There is no authoritative Islamic Law that does not contain these core principles because Scholarly Consensus was reached on these issues and they find their basis in the Qur’an – the direct word of God according to Islam – meaning it can never be annulled or amended.

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