FBI fights efforts to recruit local kids online

Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-04 20:12:37-04

The Detroit FBI is stepping up efforts to stop our children from being targeted by terrorists for online recruitment.

In the midst of a global war on terror, America’s enemies are turning to online recruitment at a staggering rate - using the Internet to connect with teens more than ever.

FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios met with us behind closed doors. He says the Detroit field office is routinely monitoring online publications, various social media sites, web forums and chat rooms.

Extremist groups like ISIS, along with domestic groups, often use the web to convey radical messages and violent images glorifying attacks.

Nationally, the FBI is spreading the message "don't be a puppet.”

Here in metro Detroit, the FBI us taking numerous steps to be proactive - even engaging in anti-bullying campaigns in schools.

Often kids who are at risk for online recruitment could also be victimized by bullies.

As part of a community effort, parents must also be watchful for potential warning signs. Children are being bated online, so talking to your kids is crucial.

Gelios says he's witnessed first hand the dangers of someone not intervening correctly as a parent. It happened at his own child's school. A parent caught her kid with guns prior to the incident, but failed to alert authorities.

"The 7th grader took the Asst. Principal hostage, took him into the office and took those people hostage and there was a standoff for a period of time," says Gelios. “She would have avoided being arrested, which she was charged as well, losing her job and she might have avoided her son entering the juvenile justice system for a long period of time."

As a whole, the emerging threats against our country have shifted from people traveling overseas, to a much simpler attack.

"Various radical groups are encouraging people to stay in place, and not travel," says Gelios. "In fact, I think that becomes increasingly the threat in the United States today."

Educating our youth and contacting the school or Detroit FBI in the event of trouble is now more critical than ever. It truly could save your child's life and the lives of others.