Former Counterterror Official: 'We Don't Have Enough Muslim FBI Agents'

Melanie Arter | October 27, 2014 | 4:10pm EDT
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Masked men display ISIS banners after end-of-Ramadan Eid prayers in the Indian-ruled part of divided Kashmir in late July. (Photo: Twitter)

( – Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the FBI does not have enough Muslim agents or agents who understand Islam.

“We don't have enough Muslim FBI agents. We don't have enough FBI agents who understand Islam, and we don't have enough people in government who are doing counterterrorism, who understand 15-to-29-year olds. They're disengaged, and this is also the group which is likely to be most violent. It can't just be Nancy Reagan with, ‘Say no to drugs.’ You have to do engagement with that demographic,” said Leiter.

Leiter acknowledged that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is using social media more so than al Qaeda did. He said ISIS tries to recruit “Jihadi Cool,” a new form of militant Jihadism designed to appeal to young people as something fashionable or cool.

“Well, I think this is the biggest change between ISIS and previous Al-Nusra or Al Qaeda,” Leiter said.

“Al Qaeda wasn't a social media thing as much,” host Chuck Todd said.

“They weren't. They are going. This, ISIS is in social media, and it is going after ‘Jihadi Cool.’ What we have to do now is counter that message using social media just as effectively, and that's not something U.S. government over the past 10 years has been particularly good at,” Leiter said.

“So we have to monitor. We have to engage, and the partnerships between state and local officials and Muslim communities really have to change from what we've done over the past 10 years,” he added.

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