- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

New FBI agents are learning to read body language, understand Islamic fundamentalism and master other skills helpful in combating terrorism, part of the most significant change in training in more than half a century.
Roger Trott, head of the FBI's new-agent training program at Quantico, Va., said the amount of time new agents are trained in counterterrorism and counterintelligence will be more than doubled beginning in October from 23 hours to 55 hours.
FBI basic training, which usually lasts 16 weeks, will be extended by a week to accommodate the change.
"Since September 11, there has been an emphasis on preparing agents to deal with terrorism cases," Mr. Trott said. "It is very rare that time is added on to new-agent training."
FBI training generally has focused on physical conditioning and crime-solving techniques. The ability to read body language is now receiving more attention.
"Training includes deciphering all the clues you can get not just what someone tells you in an interview, but all the signals they may give off," Mr. Trott said.
Former FBI chief analyst Paul Moore said the expansion of basic training was necessary, but was skeptical about whether the FBI was doing enough.
"It is significant, but compared to what we need, it is a drop in the ocean," said Mr. Moore, an analyst for the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, a private research firm.
"What we need to do is focus on creating agents who have a better chance to intercept intelligence and disrupt operations. One week probably won't be enough to make a real change."
Law enforcement officials say the ability to read body language might have helped them identify some of the terrorists who were undetected in the United States before September 11.
Two days before the attacks, for example, Ziad Jarrah roared past a Maryland State Police trooper at about 90 mph. He got the usual treatment: a ticket and a quick reprimand.
That ticket was found crumpled up in the car's glove compartment at Newark Airport on Sept. 11, hours after Jarrah and three others hijacked an airliner that crashed in western Pennsylvania.
Law enforcement officials, while being careful not to suggest the officer should have done anything differently, say the story illustrates that chance encounters can be important.
David Givens, director of the Center for Nonverbal Communication in Spokane, Wash., said it's relatively easy to learn the basics about body language.
"It's like any other language you can get a few basic words that will help you with easy situations very quickly," Mr. Givens said. "Getting a working knowledge of the more subtle points can take years."
Mr. Givens said it's likely that terrorists give off obvious signs of anxiety before they attack.
"There are certain human responses to great pressure that cannot be easily controlled, if you accept the idea that they can be controlled at all," Mr. Givens said. "It can be an effective law enforcement tool."
The FBI is also expanding training about Islamic fundamentalism.
In the hunt for al Qaeda members, the FBI has found troves of computer records, operation manuals and other documents, most of which are in Arabic. Translating the documents has been a slow process, according to Justice Department officials, but making use of the translated data is equally difficult.
It took the FBI three months to discover a picture of Saud Abdulaziz Saud al-Rasheed among pictures of the September 11 hijackers in one trove of al Qaeda documents. The agency immediately issued a public alert with al-Rasheed's picture, seeking information on his possible whereabouts.
A senior Justice Department official acknowledged the FBI is trying to expand its ability to assess information in Arabic.
Juliette Kayyem, a terrorism expert and professor at Harvard University, said the new training will only be useful if it focuses on behavior.
"The FBI gets into the most trouble when it views a certain belief as dangerous," Miss Kayyem said. "The behavior training or training that focuses on dealing with people from other cultures is good, but when agents begin to focus on belief systems you just get widespread alienation in the communities where you most need help."

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