The feds hope to talk teens out of being a puppet for extremists both foreign and domestic through the use of a new website aimed at the nation’s youth, including tough talk on self-described “patriot” militia groups.
“The best weapon against violent extremists and their efforts to recruit are empowered young people like you, and communities that welcome and support everyone, especially the most vulnerable,” says FBI Director Jim Comey in a video supporting the new effort. “So be part of the solution, don’t be a puppet.”
The site, debuted this week, Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism, is laid out in five sections that, while making a point that free speech and religious liberty are protected under the Constitution of the United States and that having extremist beliefs is legal, it also warns that when violence is directly advocated or used a line is crossed.
“We’re saying, ‘Don’t be a puppet,’—in other words, don’t just blindly accept what violent extremists tell you or you could end up being controlled and manipulated by people who want you to hurt or kill innocent people,” says Jonathan Cox with the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.
Known violent international extremist groups listed in the materials include Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hizballah and FARC.
Domestic extremist groups warned against in the course include Sovereign citizen, militia, abortion, white supremacy, anarchists and animals rights organizations.
One statement given under “militia extremists” goes on define such individuals by citing, “Often calling themselves ‘patriots,’ they believe the government has become corrupt, has overstepped its constitutional limits, or has not been able to protect the country against global dangers.”
Teens who complete all five sections will earn a certificate suitable for framing.