FBI Tool To Identify Extremists Garners Backlash From Muslim And Arab Leaders

An FBI tool to help identify extremists, which was created for use by teachers and students, has garnered intense backlash. The federal agency maintains the interactive software program was developed as a training tool to prevent young Americans from being attracted to violent extremism.

The FBI tool to identify extremists was recently previewed by Muslim, Arab, and other religious leaders, MSN reports. The religious leaders reportedly uttered strong objections to the program that helps identify violent extremists. They were reportedly upset that the entire premise of the tool was focused solely on Islamic extremism. The faith leaders maintained that such extremists have not been the cause of school shootings in the United States and attacks on America.

islamic extremism
FBI identifying extremists tool, 'Don't Be A Puppet' developed for teachers and students.

The “Don’t Be a Puppet” FBI program reportedly takes users through a series of games while offering tips to help identify an individual who might be at risk of being courted by radical or violent extremists. Each time the user achieves success in the game, a pair of scissors appears and a string attached to the puppet it cut free.

“The FBI is developing a website designed to provide awareness about the dangers of violent extremist predators on the Internet with input from students, educators, and community leaders,” a representative from the federal agency told the media late Sunday evening.

identifying extremists FBI tool
An FBI computer program to train students and teacher to spot violent extremists chastised by Muslim and Arab religious leaders.

The identifying extremists software program is expected to be available online starting today. Religious leaders who previewed the terrorism tool also stated that the software program would “stigmatize” both Muslim and Arab students and make them even more susceptible to bullying.

“Teachers in classrooms should not become an extension of law enforcement,” Georgetown University Law Center adjunct professor of law Arjun S. Sethi said.

The professor, who specializes in the areas of law enforcement and counter-terrorism law, was invited to give feedback on the extremists computer program by the FBI.

“The program is based on flawed theories of radicalization, namely that individuals radicalize in the exact same way and it’s entirely discernible,” Sethi said. “But it’s not, and the FBI is basically asking teachers and students to suss these things out.”

The Georgetown professor went on to deem the entire program created by the FBI as an example of “misplaced priorities.”

“The greatest threat facing American schoolchildren today is gun violence. It’s not Muslim extremism, the professor claimed.”

Approximately six organizations which represent Muslims, Yemenis, Sikhs, and Arabs in America were invited to a meeting with the FBI in October to review the identification tool. The leaders were given a run-through of the features in the online program. The software covers various types of extremists ideologies and violent groups and the personality changes that could indicate “radicalization” is occurring, the International Business Times reports.

The FBI tool used to identify extremists also reportedly showed the places where terrorists live on a virtual map and included interviews with victims of terror attacks.

“They were getting blowback from everybody. It was a very tense meeting,” said Abed A. Ayoub, the legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “If this is shown to middle and high school students, it’s going to result in the bullying of these children.”

Muslim Public Affairs Council policy and advocacy director Hoda Hawa said that the FBI stated during the meeting that they wanted teachers to introduce students to the program during their government, civics, and social studies classes. The software program is free and accessible online for everyone to use.

The 9/11 review commission issued a report in May, which stated that the FBI is not the “appropriate vehicle” for creating violent extremism prevention programs.

What do you think about teachers and students using the FBI tool to identify extremists in schools?

[Image via Video Screengrab]