The FBI is reportedly referring some potential terror suspects to counseling in a new strategy to defeat homegrown Islamic State supporters.
Rather than lock up everyone in the U.S. suspected of potential terrorist activity, the FBI will refer up to 10% of the thousands of people under investigation to counseling, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Still, the FBI will continue its criminal investigations into the people who have been referred for counseling.
They would also be ready to make arrests if individuals undergoing counseling are deemed increasingly dangerous.
Proponents of the plan say it will ease the FBI’s investigative burden, and provide a possible “off ramp” from radicalization, saying that the FBI cannot effectively investigate the thousands of Americans who are believed to be interested in joining ISIS.
“Nobody wants to see a 15-year-old kid go to jail if they don’t have to,” an official working on the new plan said.
The challenge is especially critical for teenage suspects because the federal criminal justice system is poorly equipped to prosecute minors, officials said.
Some inside federal law enforcement are pushing back against the plan, because of the potentially deadly consequences of misjudging potential suspects.
“I get the principle,” former FBI counterterrorism agent Peter Ahearn told TheWSJ. “But there are a lot of potential problems with this, and I think it’s a wrong move.”
A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told TheWSJ it works closely with the FBI and believes “successful interventions will be ones conducted with the appropriate participation of community leaders, educators, mental health professionals, religious leaders, parents, peers and law enforcement, depending on the specific circumstances.”
DHS is marketing U.S. citizenship to immigrants as part of its strategy to fight homegrown terror, in hopes that potential access to shared citizenship rights will dissuade people from linking up with ISIS.