New FBI Counter Extremism Site Fails to Mention Islamism
Sun, February 28, 2016
Screenshot from the FBI's Don't be a Puppet.
The FBI has launched a new website to counter extremism, but it has been stripped of references to Islamist extremism or Islam.
Titled "Don’t be a Puppet," the site tries to deconstruct some of the motivating factors that lead people into extremism. It’s aimed for use in high schools or other programs for teenagers.
The website was originally slated to launch in November 2015, but did not, following criticisms from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). At the time, CAIR expressed concerns about a new FBI “countering violent extremism” (CVE) online program that would make teachers an extension of law enforcement and may stigmatize and increase bullying of Muslim students.”
Several community organizations told The New York Times they thought the website “focuses almost entirely on Islamic extremism.”
The site was then put on hold, eventually launching in February 2016.
There is no reason why a site that targets the specific roots of Islamist terrorism and tackles the ideology openly should increase the bullying of Muslim students. On the contrary, if the site’s explanation properly separates the theocratic totalitarian political ideology of Islamism from the religion of Islam in general, then it should have the opposite impact – calming fears about Muslims by painting an accurate picture about what is going on.
The updated version of the site includes only vague generalities about different types of “violent extremism.” CAIR had lobbied the FBI to change the content of the game, which the agency seems to have done.
The types of extremism listed incude:
- White Supremacy Extremists
- Environmental Extremists
- Militia Extremists
- Religious Extremists
- Anarchist Extremists
“It’s the FBI’s primary responsibility—working with its many partners—to protect the nation from attacks by violent extremists,” the website’s introduction states. “One important way to do that is to keep young people—the future of our country—from embracing violent extremist ideologies in the first place.”
“This website is designed to help do just that. Built by the FBI in consultation with community leaders and other partners, it uses a series of interactive materials to educate teens on the destructive nature of violent extremism and to encourage them to think critically about its messages and goals.”
Although the website mentions specific terrorist attacks including 9/11 as being carried out by al-Qaeda, it failed to name the specific ideology driving Islamist terrorist attacks worldwide.
Without a clear explanation of the ideology behind Islamist terrorism, the FBI presents the problem as solely one of violence, in sharp contrast to the reality of the many non-violent Islamist groups which are working towards their ambitions of a global Islamist caliphate through political means. Foremost among these is the Muslim Brotherhood, one branch of which is the terrorist organization Hamas.
The Council on American Islamic Relations is facing a possible ban in the U.S. after legislation to ban Muslim Brotherhood entities in America as terrorist organizations passed the House Judiciary Committee. CAIR is listed as one of three US Muslim Brotherhood entities.
A mountain of documentation shows that CAIR's role in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee. Two of CAIR’s founders were present at a secret meeting in 1993 that was wiretapped by the FBI where they were instructed to deceive American audiences.
"War is deception," they said at the meeting.
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.