MARCH 01, 2016
A government anti-radicalization internet program set to be launched months ago is finally up and running with the changes demanded by Islamic activists that claimed the original version was biased against Muslims.
This is a story Judicial Watch has followed closely. Back in November JW reported that the Obama administration abruptly pulled the plug on a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website aimed at preventing the radicalization of youth after Muslim and Arab rights groups protested that it was discriminatory and would lead to bullying, bias and religious profiling of students. The interactive website (“Don’t Be a Puppet”) was created by the U.S. government as a tool for the nation’s schools to prevent susceptible youth from getting recruited online by terrorists. The stated goal is to combat a growing epidemic of violent extremism by keeping youth from falling prey to online terrorists.
But when the website first went live in early November, 2015 the same Islamic groups that have strong-armed federal and local law enforcement agencies into purging ant-terrorism training material considered offensive to Muslims, expressed outrage. The Obama administration promptly caved in and changes were made. One of the groups, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, issued a victory statement saying the website improperly characterized Muslims as a suspect community with targeted focus and stereotypical depictions that could exasperate the problem by leading to bullying, bias and religious profiling. The group also fired off a follow-up letter, signed by other Muslim rights advocates, suggesting the FBI stay away from schools. They claimed the original “Don’t Be a Puppet” site created a “dangerous precedent of FBI overreach into sectors of our society that are best managed by experts, like teachers, curriculum developers, and other educators.”
A few days ago the revamped, Muslim activist-approved version of “Don’t Be a Puppet” quietly went up on the FBI’s website and it omits any reference to Islamist extremism or Islam. It does, however, list other types of extremism such as white supremacy extremists, environmental extremists, militia extremists, religious extremists and anarchist extremists. The website defines violent extremism as “encouraging, condoning, justifying or supporting the commission of a violent act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social or economic goals.” A section that addresses why people become violent extremists claims there’s no single reason to explain it “but it often happens when someone is trying to fill a deep personal need.” As examples it lists those who may feel alone or lack meaning and purpose in life, those who are emotionally upset after a stressful event and people who don’t feel valued or appreciated by society or think they have limited chances to succeed.
Another section says groups that commit acts of violent extremism can have very different beliefs and goals, an obvious effort to diversify the terrorist population and avoid singling out Islamists. “They are located in many countries around the world,” the website proclaims. Al Qaeda, Somalia-based Al Shabaab, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and ISIS/ISIL are listed as international violent extremist groups. The website goes out of its way to explain that, although ISIL calls itself “Islamic State” it does “not represent mainstream Islam and the vast majority of Muslims are horrified by their actions.” U.S. groups with some of the most common domestic ideologies are identified as abortion extremists, animal rights, sovereign citizen extremists and white supremacists. Islamic extremists aren’t mentioned anywhere in the FBI’s revamped website.
This pathetic censorship is part of a broader effort by the government to appease Muslim rights groups, which have proven to wield tremendous power in the Obama administration. This is especially true of the terrorist front organization Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which also flexed its muscle in this matter. It was CAIR that got the FBI to purge anti-terrorism material determined to be offensive to Muslims. Judicial Watch uncovered that scandal a few years ago and obtained hundreds of pages of FBI documents with details of the arrangement. JW also published a special in-depth report on the subject. CAIR and its allies also got several police departments in President Obama’s home state of Illinois to cancel essential counterterrorism courses over accusations that the instructor was anti-Muslim. The course was called “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” and departments in Lombard, Elmhurst and Highland Park caved into CAIR’s demands.
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