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FBI program instructs teachers to report radical students

US Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has introduced a new mass surveillance program which instructs US high schools to report students who show signs of being future terrorists.

The FBI’s program, labeled ‘Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools’, was released in January, providing guidelines mostly laid out to target Muslim-American communities and educational centers.

"High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of violence within our borders," the FBI program guidelines read.

The FBI calls on teachers to “incorporate a two-hour block of violent extremism awareness training” into the core curriculum for all youth in grades 9 through 12.

The guidelines instruct educators to look for warning signs or indicators that a student could exhibit as a potential threat regarding extremism, such as talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious, using code words or unusual language, using several different cell phones and private messaging apps, and studying or taking pictures of potential targets like a government building.

US high school staff maintain that many of these so-called indicators are too broad to be effective and other indicators seem specifically geared toward targeting Muslims.

"In practice, schools seeking to implement this document will end up monitoring Muslim students disproportionately," said Arun Kundnani, a professor at New York University.

The program seems to be in line with a similar one operated in the UK, known as 'Preventing Violent Extremism', which relies on mass-surveillance of Muslim communities and mosques that has been expanded into the country’s public schools.

The program in the UK was heavily bashed by rights groups and activists.

"Our case studies show that children are being taken away from mandatory school hours to be questioned on matters misconstrued as markers of extremism," said a CAGE activist, an Islamic advocacy group in the UK. "By alienating parents, turning teachers into informants, and antagonizing students, [UK program] PREVENT is a divisive policy that does an injustice to the education system."

US Muslims are no stranger to such moves by security organizations.

There have already been reports of the areas with higher Muslim densities in Detroit and other American cities, constantly being spied on by planes linked to an FBI surveillance program which is allegedly used to track down spies, terrorists and criminals.

The vast surveillance has angered Muslim activists in the United States and some of them are planning to hit back with lawsuits.

Anti-Islam rhetoric has also hit the US presidential election of 2016, with GOP candidate Donald Trump creating a furor in the country and around the world by proposing a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the US.

The billionaire real-estate mogul also called for a database to track Muslims across the United States, and said the US would have "absolutely no choice" but to close down mosques.                                                                         

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