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FBI asks people to report family, friends showing ‘extremist’ behavior

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials at the Joint Field Office(JFO) Baton Rouge. (Jacinta Quesada/FEMA)
July 12, 2021

On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked people to report their family members and friends who are showing “extremist” behavior in an effort to “help prevent homegrown violent extremism.”

“Family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence. Help prevent homegrown violent extremism,” the FBI said in a tweet. “Visit https://go.usa.gov/x6mjf to learn how to spot suspicious behaviors and report them to the #FBI. #NatSec.”

A link provided by the FBI brings users to a document titled, “Homegrown Violent Extremist Mobilization Indicators.” The document outlines a list of 46 “observable behaviors that could help determine whether individuals or groups are preparing to engage in violent extremist activities.”

The top three indicators on the list are: Preparing and disseminating a martyrdom video/statement, last will, seeking religious or political justification for a planned violent act, and Attempting to mobilize others to violence, especially family members and peers.

Other indicators include encouraging or advocating violence toward individuals, military or government officials, law enforcement, or civilian targets, unusual purchase of military-style tactical equipment other than weapons (e.g., personal protective equipment, body armor), dehumanizing people who are not in the identity group, researching or discussing ways to evade law enforcement and lying to law enforcement officers/obstructing investigations.

The 2019 document largely focuses on Islamic extremism, but more recently President Joe Biden’s administration has called white supremacy “the most lethal threat” to homeland security.

“According to the intelligence community, terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today,” Biden said during a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Not ISIS. Not Al Qaeda. White supremacists.”

Last month, the White House announced the new National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, an effort seeking to improve how domestic terrorism is defined, identified, and combated, primarily targeting those with racist or anti-government ideology.

The strategy says that experts and evidence have shown today’s domestic terrorists include those who espouse “racial or ethnic bigotry and hatred” as well as “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.” However, anti-law enforcement ideologies such as those espoused by Antifa and Black Lives Matter were not mentioned.

“Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (principally those who promote the superiority of the white race) and militia violent extremists are assessed as presenting the most persistent and lethal threats,” the strategy states.

In May, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing on domestic extremism that white supremacists pose “the tops domestic violent extremist threat” in the United States.

“Domestic violent extremists pose an elevated threat in 2021 and in the FBI’s view, the top domestic violent extremist threat we face comes from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” Garland told lawmakers.