FBI Unable to Attract Arabic Speakers
Posted on Oct 11, 2006
According to new FBI statistics, of the bureau’s 12,000 agents, only 33 speak even minimally functional Arabic. It gets worse: Of the 33, none work on international terrorism.
(h/t: Think Progress)
Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the United States, only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism, according to new FBI statistics.
Counting agents who know only a handful of Arabic words—including those who scored zero on a standard proficiency test—just 1 percent of the FBI’s 12,000 agents have any familiarity with the language, the statistics show.
The numbers reflect the FBI’s continued struggle to attract employees who speak Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and other languages of the Middle East and South Asia, even as the bureau leads a fight against terrorist groups primarily centered in those parts of the world. The same challenge is facing the CIA and other agencies as the government competes with the private sector for a limited number of applicants with foreign-language proficiency, according to U.S. officials and experts.