Americans are urged to report everyone around them, including relatives and friends, if they show any sign of extremist behavior. The message is part of the FBI’s new agenda to help tackle radicalization on U.S. soil.
On July 11, the federal law enforcement agency claimed the best sources of intelligence comes from loved ones or their equals.
“Family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence,” the FBI said on Twitter. “Help prevent homegrown violent extremism.”
It also encouraged more than 3 million social media followers to download a copy of its 2019 “Homegrown Violent Extremist Mobilization Indicators” booklet.
“Learn how to spot suspicious behaviors and report them to the FBI,” the agency said.
Family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence. Help prevent homegrown violent extremism. Visit https://t.co/bql36iSbig to learn how to spot suspicious behaviors and report them to the #FBI. #NatSec pic.twitter.com/ZwJp5h5bWD— FBI (@FBI) July 11, 2021
The publication outlines a number of ways civilians can detect unusual activities that might indicate extremist behavior.
“[An extremist is defined as] a person of any citizenship who lives or operates primarily in the United States or its territories,” the booklet said. “[It is someone] who advocates, engages in, or is preparing to engage in or support terrorist activities in furtherance of a foreign terrorist organization’s objectives but who is acting independently of foreign terrorist direction.”
People are urged to raise their alarm if they see a loved one try to test explosives, buy military-style tactical equipment or illegally purchase weapons. Anyone who wants to travel to join or associate with terrorist groups abroad can be suspected, too.
Notably, the instruction allows people to report others even only if they are suspicious of the person’s online activities.
“[This includes if they] declare they are ISIS (Islamic State) on social media, post terrorist symbols–green birds, flags, lions … [or are] retweeting or linking to violent extremists,” the booklet said.
BL understands the FBI is mainly targeting people linked to Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other international terrorist groups.
The Twitter post has already attracted its fair share of critics, many of whom accuse the FBI of encouraging people to “snitch on their own families and friends” and incite division.
“Trying to turn family members on one another and get them to snitch to the government for ‘suspicious behavior’ seems like a bad move, and reminiscent of some well-known past regimes,” one user said. “I want to live in a safe environment but not at any cost.”
Several senior politicians voiced condemnation too.
“While violent crime soars, [President] Joe Biden’s priority is his domestic war on terror–snooping and spying on normal, working Americans who have the ‘wrong’ political opinions,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said on Twitter. “This is dangerous.”
While violent crime soars, Joe Biden’s priority is his domestic war on terror – snooping and spying on normal, working Americans who have the “wrong” political opinions. This is dangerous https://t.co/3Ssuhc0e67— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 12, 2021
“In both Cuba and China, they also ask children to spy on their parents,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Twitter.
In both Cuba & China, they also ask children to spy on their parents…. https://t.co/ss9TKNEBlz— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 11, 2021
“If any person takes this seriously, I feel sorry for them,” former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Mike Doran said on Twitter. “The FBI encourages us to snitch on family members. Meanwhile, FBI leaders cover-up for the transgressions of their colleagues, to say nothing of their families.”
If any person takes this seriously, I feel sorry for them. The FBI encourages us to snitch on family members. Meanwhile FBI leaders cover up for the transgressions of their colleagues, to say nothing of their families. https://t.co/aZqaIGoKAh— Mike (@Doranimated) July 11, 2021
Gateway Pundit, a conservative outlet, accused that the FBI might be targeting QAnon and MAGA followers, not just the evident extremists like Islamic State aficionados.
“Based on the FBI’s treatment of Trump supporters who attended the January 6 Capitol protest, it is clear that the feds are also encouraging people to snitch on conservative family members,” associate editor Cristina Laila reported.
BL is unable to confirm whether the FBI truly had a malicious intent when asking citizens to report on their own families and friends for extremism. However, positive reactions to the announcement are arguably few on Twitter.