Constructing and disseminating 'knowledge' about a number of communities and regions widely designated as a security threat is now a big industry. Much of this industry relies heavily on various forms of translation and, in some cases, is generated by a team of dedicated translators working on full-blown, heavily funded programmes that involve selecting, translating and distributing various types of text that emanate from Arab and Muslim countries: newspaper articles, film clips, transcripts of television shows, selected excerpts from educational material, sermons delivered in mosques. Drawing on narrative theory and using examples from institutions involved in constructing this type of knowledge, this article argues that attempts to discredit such efforts by questioning the 'accuracy' of individual translations miss the point. What is needed, instead, is a more nuanced understanding of the subtle devices used to generate dehumanising narratives of Arabs and Muslims through carefully planned and generously funded programmes of translation. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.