The FBI is receiving backlash for a tweet it posted on 11th of July 11 that suggests Americans should monitor “family members and peers” for signs of “mobilization to violence” and report “suspicious behaviors” in an effort to prevent extremist activities.
“Family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence. Help prevent homegrown violent extremism. Visit https://go.usa.gov/x6mjf to learn how to spot suspicious behaviors and report them to the #FBI,” the tweet read. It also contained two photos of an individual highlighted in red operating a computer.
In the tweet is a link to a government booklet (pdf) codified in 2015 concerning signs that someone might be considering to cause some violence, but the publication mainly relates to Islamist terrorist organizations which includes ISIS and al-Qaeda.
“It is important to consider the totality of circumstances when observing potential indicators, as some factors may increase the risk of extremist violence in a given situation,” the booklet states, adding that some factors may include an individual who has an “inability to cope with changes or perceived failures in relationships, school, or career.”
”A history of violence (e.g., domestic violence or violence toward animals) and unstable mental state; social isolation or inability to join with or relate to others;” and a “possession of, access to, or familiarity with weapons or explosives” should be flagged,” the FBI wrote.
“Certainly, behaviors exist and are noted in this booklet that would be troubling regardless of ideological motivation and may warrant contacting law enforcement. However, this booklet is focused on individuals or groups that are inspired or enabled by foreign terrorist organizations, including but not limited to ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates and allies,” the document stated.
A former acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, vehemently opposed the FBI’s stance, saying that the FBI’s tweet “is outrageous” because the agency “has a growing credibility problem and this type of sinister snitching is clearly unhelpful.” Many Republican lawmakers also criticized the tweet, implying the FBI is encouraging Americans’ family members to spy on one another.
“In both Cuba & China, they also ask children to spy on their parents,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted.
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Texas) tweeted: “These people protected Hillary, abused NSA surveillance databases against Americans, used known, unreliable DNC-funded propaganda to spy on Trump, perpetuated the Russia hoax, & lied to the FISC repeatedly. And now they tell you that you should spy on your family.”
It’s not certain if the FBI posted the tweet with respect to the Biden administration’s campaign against “domestic violent extremists” or the longstanding intelligence operations opposing Islamist terror groups. And officials at the agency hasn’t responded to a request for comment.