Following the terror attacks in Paris by Islamists last month, a number of Western governments introduced new counter-terrorism measures – almost all of which inadvertently encourage xenophobia.
As it turns out, the anti-terrorism approach adopted by the United States is similarly flawed.
The National Counter terrorism Center has come up with a “rating system” to determine if a family is at risk of turning toward extremism, according to documents obtained by The Intercept – an online publication co-edited by Glenn Greenwald, who won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on NSA leaks provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Here’s how it works: police, social workers and educators will be given a questionnaire requiring them to rate individuals on a scale of one to five in the following categories such as “Perceived Economic Stress,” “Family Members Trust Each Other” or “Family Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).”
Your ranking will apparently “help alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies,” The Intercept reports.
“A low score in any of these categories would indicate a high risk of susceptibility to engage in violent extremism.”
As evidently absurd as scoring your family members or neighbors for terrorism may sound, the said rating system has been under government consideration for almost a year as part of a wider, 36-page program called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts.”
Although the document states that CVE does not target any specific group, the National Counterterrorism Center guide, quite ironically, cites examples using Muslim communities only.
The Intercept quoted Arun Kundnani, a professor at New York University, as saying that the U.S. program “leads a range of non-policing professionals to cast particular suspicion on Muslim populations and profile them for behaviors that have no real connection to criminality.”
Mike German, a former FBI agent, remarked that “the idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical and social service employees to rate the communities, individuals and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face.”
While it’s understandable that the West is indeed working in the best interest of its citizens and their security, a brief analysis of the ensuing counter-terrorism measures reflects extreme paranoia that could have a devastating effect on the countries’ Muslims populations.
For instance, apart from coming up with a ridiculous guide “to spot a terrorist” for parents worried their children might be getting recruited by terrorist outfits, an 8-year-old boy was detained in France after he refused to be a part of a minute's silence for those slain by Islamic militants in the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
In Britain, the government issued new guidelines last month, requiring nursery school staff to report any toddlers who they believe are at risk of being terrorists – while ignoring the fact that around 112 cases of physical and verbal violence against Muslim students were registered following the terror attacks in Paris.