- Insider Threats: Experts Try to Balance the Constitution with Law Enforcement to Find Terrorists
Insider Threats: Experts Try to Balance the Constitution with Law Enforcement to Find Terrorists
Posted Jul 6, 2012 4:56 PM CDT
By Sarah Mui
A few minutes into a lecture on Islamic extremism, counterterrorism instructor William Gawthrop lifts a sheet of paper and asks the class to imagine iron filings on top and a powerful magnet underneath.
“As you move the magnet … you see the iron filings move back and forth,” Gawthrop told law enforcement officers at a June 2011 seminar in downtown Manhattan.
Continuing his analogy, which was captured on video, Gawthrop likens the iron filings to Muslims. But “what we are interested in,” he says, is the magnet, “the radiating force [that Islamic] ideology” exerts on its surroundings.
“That force,” he adds, “is also exerted against you.”
He also says that “this ideology is an engine, and as an engine it produces an output. ... [It] is militant in tone and tenor, has a singular purpose and methodology for advancing itself.”
“We waste a lot of analytic effort talking about the type of weapon, the timing, the tactics,” Gawthrop says. “All of that is irrelevant ... if you have an Islamic motivation for actions.”
When Wired magazine published the video, skeptics called Gawthrop’s lecture simplistic. The former military interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander told Wired, “The single worst thing we’ve done since 9/11, the one thing that’s harmed us the most in interrogations, is these types of stereotypes.”
Added former CIA analyst Jarret Brachman: “This kind of vitriolic snake oil is not only wrong but it serves to inflame the relations between Muslims and law enforcement, making both communities more suspicious of one another’s real intentions.”
Gawthrop’s seminar isn’t the only effort that has disturbed critics with its bid to target the lure of fundamentalist Islamic beliefs as part of the campaign to apprehend domestic terrorists.