‘Be careful’: the Pentagon’s hit list for extremist infiltrators, left and right

“Be aware of symbols of far-right, far-left, Islamist, or single-issue ideologies,” he warns, emphasizing that military and civilian personnel have a “duty and responsibility” to report behavior or activity. extremist.

The materials were prepared as part of a broader Pentagon effort to crack down on extremists who may be lurking within the military after dozens of former service members were arrested for their role in the Jan.6 attack on US Capitol to stop the certification of the presidential election.

The prevalence of extremists in the Defense Department appears to be small. For example, the 222,000-strong Marine Corps recently reported expelling four members last year for extremist activities.

But the Pentagon says one is too much and the true numbers are not known because supporters who have been recruited by extremist groups or encouraged to enlist often organize and communicate in secret.

“No one really knows,” Audrey Kurth Cronin, director of the American University Center for Security, Innovation and New Technologies, said at a House panel this week. “You cannot build a serious plan without defining the scope of the problem.”

Internal training materials focus on extremist symbolism and behavior, of all kinds, and point out the risk of making false assumptions about people who pose no threat. This includes pointing out that religious conservatives are often mistakenly grouped with white supremacists or other extremists.

The Department of Homeland Security has said that white supremacist extremists are the deadliest terrorist threat facing the United States. And while Republicans accused far-left groups like Antifa of participating in the insurrection, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers this month that “there is no evidence.” those groups played a role.

Last month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a full force withdrawal that required all units to discuss the threat of extremism within 60 days.

He called it the first step in “a concerted effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the scope of this problem and to develop sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and behavior have on the workforce.”

The clashes also include “listening sessions” to hear from Pentagon personnel about their experiences with the activity, such as as one celebrated on friday by a unit of the 101st Airborne Division of the Army.

The department published a comprehensive guide for commanders to address extremism, which focuses on reinforcing the basic principles of the military enshrined in their oath to the Constitution and several case studies of military personnel who were prosecuted for involvement in extremist activities. or conspiring with radical groups.

But those materials did not identify specific threat groups, and Austin has provided ample room for maneuver for individual units and commandos to tackle the challenge as they see fit.

The internal report shared with POLITICO was compiled by the human resources office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a small Pentagon agency of several hundred military personnel, civilian employees, and contractors that manages research for innovative technologies.

Pentagon spokesman Jamal Brown noted that military units and individual components have been given broad authority to tailor their own approaches to address the extremist threat with their employees. He was not immediately able to say how many staff members have received this specific information and deferred questions about it to DARPA.

Jared Adams, a spokesman for DARPA, explained in an email that “our training module was copied verbatim from material provided by the Department of Defense Internal Threat Management and Analysis Center of the Defense Security and Counterintelligence Agency.

“We did not add any symbols and we use all images provided,” Adams said.

The briefing was sent to civilian employees as part of required department-wide training on “Extremism and Inside Threats in the Department of Defense.” Adams said the training is required to be completed this month. Employees have to digest the material and then answer a few questions.

The more detailed materials divide extremist movements into three main categories, including “patriot” extremism, anarchist extremism, and ethnic / racial supremacy.

“Patriotic” extremism, according to the document, argues that the US government “has become corrupt, has exceeded its constitutional limits, or is no longer able to protect people against foreign threats.” Supporters reject the government’s authority to tax and govern, believe they do not have to follow the law, and in some cases form militias and call for the government to be violently overthrown.

He cites as examples the symbols of the Oath Keepers and Boogaloo Boys, which participated in the attack on the Capitol. It also lists groups like Sovereign Citizens and Proud Boys.

Anarchist extremism, meanwhile, opposes all forms of government, the document says, along with capitalism and corporations. He cites as examples the left-wing movements Antifa and Occupy, as well as the Alianza de Solidaridad de los Trabajadores,

The third main category of extremists is organized around “ethnic / racial supremacy”, which blames the United States government for “forcing race mixing”.

“While the vast majority of these groups hold white supremacist views,” the document states, “a wide range of racial and ethnic groups have similar beliefs about the supremacy of their ethnicity or race.” Examples include the Aryan nations and the Ku Klux Klan. , Evropa and Atomwaffen Division.

The document also highlights violent Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS and the conspiratorial movement QAnon.

The slides list other radical ideologies that do not specifically target the military, including religious extremism, environmental extremism, and “anti-feminism.”

It says religious extremists defend purity by subjugating or eliminating other religions. But he also warns that “Christian extremism is often combined with white supremacy by a joint ideology centered on racial and religious purity that they believe is God’s intention.”

Anti-feminists “openly call for the attack, rape and murder of women,” it reads.

“Main target: Women, especially women perceived as attractive (referred to as ‘Stacy’) who sexually reject or would likely reject unattractive men; attractive men (referred to as ‘Chads’) who are not sexually rejected by women; feminists; men who are not opposed to feminism. “

But detecting extremists is proving extremely difficult because the language, symbols, tattoos and other identifiers they use are regularly replaced with new ones.

“The landscape of local extremist ideologies is constantly evolving,” the informational slide explains.

The slides reflect the challenge to crack down on extremists without pointing out political views. This same week, Republicans in Congress voiced new concerns that the Pentagon effort could expand and target conservatives.

“I am very concerned that we will see people from all walks of society lose their jobs and other things simply because of a Facebook post or some other post that was made when someone was angry,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga. ) said during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on the issue.

Marine Corps veteran Michael Berry, general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit organization that defends religious freedom, told the panel that he has seen Department of Defense posts “indicating that people who identify as Christian Evangelicals or Catholics or other religious groups are at least considered possibly extremist. “

“You are basically telling those who, according to the data, are most likely to join our military, that they are not welcome and should look elsewhere,” he said.

Some Democrats also expressed concern that the military is inadvertently punishing troops for their political or religious views. “It is not the case that extremism is simply anyone who disagrees with their political views and I think that more and more I have seen some who take it to that level,” said panel chair Representative Adam. Smith (D-Wash.). “People who serve in the military have the right to have political opinions. Those opinions will undoubtedly differ from one another.

Other Republicans on the panel also downplayed warnings that the ranks have infiltrated because the Pentagon lacks hard data and has relied primarily on anecdotal information.

“We lack concrete evidence that violent extremism is as mature in the military as some commentators claim,” said Rep. Mike Rogers. (R-Ala.), The main Republican of the committee. “While I agree with my colleagues that these numbers should be zero, this is far from the biggest military justice problem facing our armed services.”

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