F.B.I. Tool to Identify Extremists Is Criticized

Source: The New York Times

The F.B.I. is about to introduce an interactive program it developed for teachers and students, aimed at training them to prevent young people from being drawn into violent extremism. But Muslim, Arab and other religious and civil rights leaders who were invited to preview the program have raised strong objections, saying it focuses almost entirely on Islamic extremism, which they say has not been a factor in the epidemic of school shootings and attacks in the United States.

The program, according to those who saw it at F.B.I. headquarters, called “Don’t Be a Puppet,” leads the viewer through a series of games and tips

intended to teach how to identify someone who may be falling prey to radical extremists. With each successful answer, scissors cut a puppet’s string, until the puppet is free.

In the campaign against terrorists such as the Islamic State, law enforcement agencies have been stepping up efforts to identify those susceptible to recruitment. The agencies have enlisted the cooperation and advice of religious and community leaders. But the controversy over the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s new online tool is one more indication that there is no consensus on who should be involved in detecting and reporting suspects, and where to draw the line between prevention and racial or religious profiling.

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