The FBI is enlisting teams of community leaders, clergy, social workers and mental health professionals to counsel troubled people who voice support for terrorism in a program that could begin in New Jersey this year, officials said.
The teams, called “shared responsibility committees,” would act on tips and intervene to help to steer a person away from a path toward radicalism, through counseling and social services. It’s part of an evolving strategy to prevent violent extremism that has become harder for investigators to detect among people who act alone, often in front of their computers.
Intervention teams are active in a few U.S. cities, but the New Jersey program is in the early planning stages, said an FBI official who spoke with The Record on the condition of anonymity.
Civil-liberties groups and Muslim leaders are reacting warily to the FBI’s connection to the groups, with the head of one national organization predicting that community leaders would become government informants, and that counselors’ notes and private conversations could become part of criminal investigations.