We’re From the FBI and We’re Here To Counsel You

 

shutterstock_243018994Via the Wall Street Journal, the FBI is launching a new program intended to use counseling and intervention-style techniques to combat ISIS:

Proponents of the intervention model say it provides a possible “off ramp” from radicalization and addresses a hard truth: The FBI cannot effectively investigate all of the thousands of Americans who are believed to be interested in Islamic State, also known as ISIS…

It continues:

A similar effort in Britain resulted in about 2,000 referrals to intervention since April 2012, and hundreds of those people received some form of support as a result, according to a 2014 summary of the program.

The approach has prompted spirited debates among some federal law enforcement officials. For years the FBI stayed away from intervention, with senior officials arguing their agents weren’t social workers, according to current and former officials.

Some of those officials worry that if someone referred for counseling ends up killing people, the FBI would be pilloried for treating the person with kid gloves. Others have raised questions about legal liability, and whether the government should have a formal, written mechanism for telling doctors, teachers or others that they won’t be held responsible if someone turns violent.

At first glance, this seems like the sort of soft-on-terrorism thing that one would expect from the Obama Administration. After a second glance, I still think that’s true, but I’m not convinced that it’s a wholly bad idea, either.

As I wrote a few months ago, domestic Islamic terrorists generally fit into one of two categories: those who are foreign-trained, patient, skilled, and focused like the Kouachi brothers, the 7/7 killers, and the 9/11 hijackers (“vampires” in my nomenclature) and those who are self-radicalized, impatient, poorly-trained, and opportunistic (“zombies”), such as those who’ve committed the string of shootings we’ve seen in the last few months. The two groups behave differently and — like their monstrous namesakes — require different approaches to combat.

Obviously, the counseling-style approach will do us no good against the vampires, and it takes very little imagination to see how it could backfire spectacularly if one of them infiltrated it. Moreover, this seems like something the FBI — whose history and very nature guarantee some degree of outsider status — would be uniquely ill-suited for.

On the other hand, there may be a germ of a good idea in here, albeit one whose poor implementation may do more harm than good. Take the recent cases of Alexander Ciccolo — arrested in Massachusetts after his policeman father alerted the FBI that his son had gone off the deep-end — and Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the Chattanooga man who murder four marines and a sailor.

Certainly in Ciccolo’s case — and quite possibly in Abdulazeez’s , if the anonymous statements of friends are correct — there was a history of moderate mental illness coupled with recreational drug use and a feeling of rejection, each feeding the other two. These men’s histories and actions seem little different from that of typical spree killers, many of whom latch onto some grievance to justify their evil actions (remember this kid?). The only difference — and it is a big one — is that the particular cause they’ve latched onto has an international movement (with state backing) behind it.

These people are, at the very least, more reachable than hardened True Believers, and I imagine we can do a better job of reaching them than we currently are. I’m deeply skeptical that the FBI is the right body to approach them — their toolkit being much more orientated to slaying vampires than hunting zombies — but there’s likely some good work to be done here by someone.

But the best way to stop both the zombies and the vampires is to destroy the dark wizards who are summoning them. That’s not a job for the FBI, but it should be for other members of the federal government who don’t generally wear suits and ties.

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  1. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Remember when the FBI used to fly in on choppers and try and blow Hans Gruber to hell? I mean they were incompetent but at least they were men of action.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    “Terrorism is bad, m’kay?”

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Jamie Lockett:Remember when the FBI used to fly in on choppers and try and blow Hans Gruber to hell? I mean they were incompetent but at least they were men of action.

    As described in this should-be-famous Christmas song. [language warning]

    • #3
  4. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    This is fine but I’m not exactly enamored with the FBI these days.

    • #4
  5. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Jamie Lockett:Remember when the FBI used to fly in on choppers and try and blow Hans Gruber to hell? I mean they were incompetent but at least they were men of action.

    Yeah, until “we’re gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess”.

    • #5
  6. Jordan Wiegand Inactive
    Jordan Wiegand
    @Jordan

    I don’t think this is strong enough.

    The FBI might have to resort to time-outs or grounding them from the PlayStation until their homework is done.

    • #6
  7. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    FBI agent: “It’s not you fault, Muhammad.

    Muhammad: “I know…”

    FBI agent: “No you don’t. It’s not your fault.”

    Muhammad: “Don’t [expletive] with me Sean. Not you.

    FBI agent: “It’s not your fault.”

    Muhammad:  “Oh my God! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!”

    • #7
  8. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    • #8
  9. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Right now ISIS is the flavor of the week, the sexy NEW thing.

    The way to beat it is to utterly destroy and humiliate it.  Wrath of God stuff.

    Not so sexy to be a stomped flat or turned into a mist on FLIR video, or hiding or being pulled out of spider holes….

    • #9
  10. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    This just goes to prove the FBI has too many balls in the air.

    • #10
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