Tuesday, August 25, 2015

FBI to Put Muslim Terrorists in Counseling, Not Jail

CreepingSharia

“This new FBI is totally different.’’

Faced with a wave of potential homegrown Islamic State supporters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is embarking on a new approach with some suspects: putting them in counseling rather than handcuffs.
Federal and local officials working on counterterrorism say the logistical challenges posed by Islamic State’s propaganda—its slick online messages are readily available to anyone—make it difficult to address the problem solely through traditional investigations.
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.
The challenge is particularly acute for teenage suspects, because the federal criminal justice system is poorly equipped to prosecute minors, officials said.
“Nobody wants to see a 15-year-old kid go to jail if they don’t have to,’’ said one official working on the effort. That official said that when the FBI recommends a potential suspect for counseling, the criminal investigation will continue and agents will be prepared to make an arrest if they believe the person becomes more dangerous.
The issue has sparked an intense debate inside federal law enforcement, where many fear deadly consequences if they misjudge a suspect who is sent to counseling instead of being arrested.
“I get the principle, but there are a lot of potential problems with this, and I think it’s a wrong move,’’ said Peter Ahearn a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done but it shouldn’t be done by the FBI. That’s not the mission.’’

In Dearborn, Mich., Police Chief Ronald Haddad’s officers were contacted about a month ago by a family worried their son might try to join Islamic State. Police ended up steering the teen toward psychiatric help, the chief said.
Such an intervention doesn’t stop a criminal investigation, but Mr. Haddad said the goal is to avoid any potential violence or arrest, if possible. In a city where roughly a third of the population claims some Arab heritage, several counterterrorism officials said Dearborn’s police department is better equipped than most to do such outreach and intervention.
The chief said that if someone is plotting an attack or a crime that person will be arrested. His hope is that police can catch individuals before they reach that stage and set them on another course.
The teenager’s case is still being worked out. “But I can tell you what didn’t happen—he didn’t harm anyone here,’’ said Mr. Haddad, who is one of the country’s biggest proponents of intervention.
In Dearborn, an intervention case typically starts when authorities, often local police, are tipped about a person’s behavior that worries family, friends or acquaintances.
“We can refer it to a school counselor, where appropriate, clergy, a psychiatric ward, and part of the intervention on the part of the police is to thoroughly research—not investigate but research—to make sure there are no weapons, no previous assaultive behavior,’’ Mr. Haddad said.
The approach is increasingly embraced by the Obama administration as part of a broader initiative federal officials call countering violent extremism, or CVE—which focuses on countering terrorist propaganda and spotting problematic behavior early.
Don Borelli, a former FBI counterterrorism official, noted the approach has been used in Europe for years, and said that with proper legal guidance and training, could work here.

Hennepin County, Minn., Sheriff Richard Stanek also attended the FBI gathering last month. He said intervention isn’t much different from what police have long done to lure young men away from street gangs.
Mr. Stanek said he was encouraged by the move but cautioned that the federal government has a long way to go because it lacks a coordinated effort. Nevertheless, the sheriff said, he sees a distinct change within the FBI.
In past years, he said, “there was a lot of resistance’’ to the idea that the FBI play a role in interventions, Mr. Stanek said. “This new FBI is totally different.’’