A University of California-Berkeley law professor said that if the researchers in question ‘want to be taken seriously,’ they should reconsider their definition of terrorism.

(LifeSiteNews) — A government-funded “radicalization” database has labeled Students for Life of America (SFLA) a “terrorist” group, prompting criticism from terrorism experts.

The College Fix reported on Monday that SFLA “appears under a ‘Terrorist Group’ label in the raw dataset” of the University of Maryland’s “Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States” (PIRUS). 

The project, which is an initiative of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), tracks “ideologically motivated criminal activity” as well as “violent extremist groups,” which it defines as being led or founded by an individual who has been “indicted for an ideologically motivated violent offense.”

The PIRUS database lists two individuals associated with SFLA who match the description of student members who were arrested in 2020 for attempting to chalk “black pre-born lives matter” on a sidewalk outside of a Planned Parenthood center. The pro-lifers were arrested despite being told verbally by police that they would not be prevented from painting and having been instructed to use tempura paint. 

Meanwhile, the city permitted its streets to be widely vandalized in permanent paint with Black Lives Matter messages just before the pro-lifers’ arrests.

National security expert Elizabeth Neumann, who joined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2017, denounced START’s labeling of SFLA as a “terrorist” group in a conversation with the Fix. 

“They made an error and they should correct it,” Neumann told the media outlet in a phone interview, adding that “vandalism” by college students would not be of concern to the DHS.

Neumann “tracked terrorist threats” as a member of President George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Council before developing “protocols for reporting suspicious activity” for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She went on to serve as the assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention for the DHS from 2018 to 2020.

In 2020, Neumann resigned from the Trump administration, claiming that the president’s words and actions were “racist” and fanning the flames of “white supremacy.” 

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo also slammed START’s categorization of SFLA as a terrorist group in an email to the Fix.

“Researchers of course can create and apply any definition of ‘terrorism’ that they like. But if they want to be taken seriously, they should use something like the U.S. government’s definition,” said Yoo, a University of California-Berkeley law professor.

He pointed out that the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism is “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences.”

​​“It seems obvious that writing messages in chalk on the sidewalk does not come close to fitting this definition,” Yoo wrote. “If so, we have many more terrorists roaming the streets of Berkeley than are known to the FBI.”

The University of Maryland has not responded to the Fix’s questions about the PIRUS data, which were sent to three different offices. The Fix asked why PIRUS has logged peaceful pro-life students cleared of charges but not crimes committed by Black Lives Matter supporters that same year.

The PIRUS database shows an overwhelming bias against “right wing” groups, with an under-reporting of crimes by those associated with left-wing movements. For example, 1,700 “far right” radical offenders are logged by PRIUS while only 537 “far left” offenders have been recorded. 

An example of PIRUS’s remarkable bias — and data gaps — is its tracking of “anti-abortion” and “anti-LGBTQ” “radicals,” but not pro-abortion or pro-LGBTQ criminals, despite the fact that the U.S. has just seen an epidemic of criminal and violent activity motivated by leftist, and particularly pro-abortion, ideology.

For example, the report “Demonstrations & Political Violence in America: New Data for Summer 2020 indicates that 88 percent of the 633 incidents classified as riots involve Black Lives Matter activists. This number rises to 95 percent for riots in which the perpetrators’ affiliation can be identified. Yet, the PIRUS database conspicuously lacks mention of BLM-affiliated violence and illegal activity.

A wave of pro-abortion violence also swept the country in the wake of the 2022 Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, prompting the FBI to open “nearly 10 times as many investigations into cases of abortion-related domestic terrorism as it had in 2021,” according to The Intercept

START is now working to expand the PIRUS database with new funding from the Department of Justice (DOJ). However, the Biden DOJ’s markedly disproportionate prosecution of pro-life activists, versus pro-abortion and leftwing activists, seems to quell any hope that PIRUS will remedy its bias against conservatives. 

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