|October 3, 2012
These are some warning signs that that you have turned into a terrorist who will soon kill your co-workers, according to the U.S. military. You’ve recently changed your “choices in entertainment.” You have “peculiar discussions.” You “complain about bias,” you’re “socially withdrawn” and you’re frustrated with “mainstream ideologies.” Your “Risk Factors for Radicalization” include “Social Networks” and “Youth.”
These are some other signs that one of your co-workers has become a terrorist, according to the U.S. military. He “shows a sudden shift from radical to ‘normal’ behavior to conceal radical behavior.” He “inquires about weapons of mass effects.” He “stores or collects mass weapons or hazardous materials.”
That was the assessment of a terrorism advisory organization inside the U.S. Army called the Asymmetric Warfare Group in 2011, acquired by Danger Room. Its concern about the warning signs of internal radicalization reflects how urgent the Army considers that threat after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 people at Ford Hood in 2009. But its “indicators” of radicalization are vague enough to include both benign behaviors that lots of people safely exhibit and, on the other end of the spectrum, signs that someone is so obviously a terrorist they shouldn’t need to be pointed out. It’s hard to tell if the group is being politically correct or euphemistic.
Around the same time, the Asymmetric Warfare Group tried to understand a related problem that now threatens to undermine the U.S. war in Afghanistan: “insider threats” from Afghan troops who kill their U.S. mentors. In another chart, also acquired by Danger Room, an Afghan soldier or policeman ready to snap could be someone who “appears frustrated with partnered nations”; reads “questionable reading materials”; or who has “strange habits.” Admittedly, the U.S. military command isn’t sure what’s causing the insider attacks, but it’ll be difficult for an American soldier who doesn’t speak Pashto or Dari to identify “strange habits” among people from an unfamiliar culture.