The FBI suggests that all teachers “incorporate a two-hour block of violent extremism awareness training” into their core curriculum for all high school students in the United States.
According to the FBI’s educational materials for teenagers, circulated as a visual aide to their new guidelines, the following offenses constitute signs that “could mean that someone plans to commit violence” and therefore should be reported: “Talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious”; “Using code words or unusual language”; “Using several different cell phones and private messaging apps”; and “Studying or taking pictures of potential targets (like a government building).”
Under the category of domestic terrorists, the educational materials warn of the threat posed by “anarchist extremists.” The FBI states, “Anarchist extremists believe that society should have no government, laws, or police, and they are loosely organized, with no central leadership… Violent anarchist extremists usually target symbols of capitalism they believe to be the cause of all problems in society – such as large corporations, government organizations, and police agencies.”
But the FBI didn’t stop at the ISIS boogymanning. They warn teachers of “Animal Rights Extremists and Environmental Extremists” who are – to the FBI – no different than “white supremacy extremists,” ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists.
All of these are “out to recruit high school students,” in the FBI’s mind, according to Lazare.
The materials also instruct students to watch out for extremist propaganda messages that communicate criticisms of “corrupt western nations” and express “government mistrust.”
If you “see suspicious behavior that might lead to violent extremism,” the resource states, consider reporting it to “someone you trust,” including local law enforcement officials like police officers and FBI agents.
Lazare posits that “young Muslims are the real targets” of the FBI’s high school spy program.
At the surface level, the FBI’s new guidelines do not appear to single out Muslim students. The document and supplementaryeducational materials warn of a broad array of threats, including anti-abortion and white supremacist extremists. The Jewish Defense League is listed alongside Hizbollah and Al Qaeda as an imminent danger to young people in the United States.
But a closer read reveals that the FBI consistently invokes an Islamic threat without naming it. Cultural and religious differences, as well as criticisms of western imperialism, are repeatedly mentioned as risk factors for future extremism. “Some immigrant families may not be sufficiently present in a youth’s life due to work constraints to foster critical thinking,” the guidelines state.
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