Minority report: FBI asks high schoolers, teachers to watch for signs of student terrorism

© Chip East
High school students and teachers across the US are being encouraged to watch their peers for any telltale signs that might indicate they are about to commit an act of terror.

In an advice booklet entitled ‘Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools’, the FBI says students are “ideal targets” for terrorist recruiters aiming to carry out violent attacks on US soil.

While not as blatant as the ‘Red Scare’ US loyalty review boards or the neighborly snooping fueled by McCarthyism in the 1950s, the 28-page intelligence pamphlet does suggest young US citizens keep a close eye on one another’s activities - even to the extent of monitoring student artwork and essays.

“Many times, fellow students or educators observe behaviors or are privy to another student’s communications and commitment to a violent ideology that may be indicative of future intentions,” the document states.

The booklet advises educators and students on the importance of identifying “leakage”, which it explains as “clues prefacing a violent act”. The phrase “leakage” was previously used in an FBI study called ‘The School Shooter’, which sought to instruct people on how to identify a future assailant.

These clues include “boasts, innuendos, predictions or ultimatums” conveyed in diary entries, drawings and even essays that could point to a criminal or violent activity before it has even been committed.

The guide also recommends high schools incorporate two-hour blocks of “violent extremism awareness training” into curricula.

The booklet follows other recently published FBI guidelines on teenage surveillance. A new FBI website, designed to stop teenagers from being radicalized, urges people to inform on peers using several private messaging apps; talking about traveling to places that “sound suspicious”, or engaging in “unusual language”.

It also suggests that taking pictures of a government building might be a sign that a terrorist plot is underway.