FBI targeting right-wing terrorists via tattoos?

I’m posting this out of political interest, not as a body modification story.

A friend recently sent me this handout that was given to them by an FBI agent that visited their studio, asking their assistance in tracking potential terrorists. From my read of it, it looks to me like they’re not targeting islamofascists, but neo-nazi gangs, survivalists, pagan right-wingers, and the patriot movement. Some of the things to look out for are quite interesting:

  • People who pay with cash – This one is interesting, because it’s a recurrent paranoid theme that one of the reasons that we’re moving to credit/debit cards and away from cash is so that people can be more easily tracked.
  • People with missing fingers/hands, chemical burns, strange odors or bright colored stains on clothing – No, it’s not looking for amputation fetishists, nor is it looking for slovenly people… clearly their interest here is bomb makers.
  • Comments re: anti-US theory, radical theology, racist statements, cryptic warnings, etc. – Good luck on that one, guys… There are an awful lot of kooky people who have these ideas that walk into a tattoo shop, and most of them are completely harmless.
  • Groups of people getting the same tattoo – Targeting both best friends, frat boys and sorority sisters, and gangs I guess. In any case, the iconography of tattooing is so repetitive that I think you’d get a lot of false positives.
  • People who request unusual methods of tattooing or placement of tattoos which could allow the concealment of extremist symbols – This is interesting, because I’m not sure what they mean by “unusual methods of tattooing”… Given the second part of the statement I guess they might mean things like UV ink. But I didn’t think that right-wing extremists really went out of their way to unusually hide their tattoos. They usually just get them on non-public skin, so this seems a little “off”.

The FBI go on to ask the assistance of tattoo artists in interviewing people who come in, and asking them questions about who they are and what they’re about, and reporting anyone who seems suspicious. I think that the FBI don’t realize that by-and-large, extremists who want tattoos go to artists who are to some degree friendly to those ideas, so all this action is going to achieve is making people distrust the government even more, and won’t result in a single terrorist catch. But I suppose that’s been the counter-productive way of the government since 2001, and before as well.



  1. Elizabeth wrote:

    So pretty much every single white guy who’s ever spent time behind bars is suspect? Well, I dont know how effective that’s gonna be in eliminating terrorists since if I am not mistaken the famed American terrorists have been hermits not fitting into any aforementioned category. But I suppose it will ensure job security if not national. *shrug*

    Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  2. Dreya wrote:

    I like the one about having missing fingers, chemical burns, strange odor and bright stains on clothing. As though a person would finish making a bomb, blow their fingers off or burn themselves and then without changing clothing or taking a shower, go to the tattoos shop.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  3. fear-mongering feds? wrote:

    so if my tattoo of Jesus looks like someone else’s tattoo of Jesus, is the artist going to call the feds? If so, they are very parnoid because I’m pretty harmless.
    Both the federal agent and the artist would have to suffer from paranoia.

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink
  4. pat wrote:

    i heard about this in philadelphia, it wont work, no tattooer is going to rat out his clientel, no tattooer i know would anyway. this article is describing 95% of the people getting tattooed in philly. not to mention, 80% or the tattoo shop owners surpass the description in the whole country! there is a saying “SNITCHES END UP IN DITCHES”! most people in the tattoo biz know that saying.

    Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Ace wrote:

    Feds came into my friend’s tattoo shop a couple of months ago asking strange questions. Spooky.

    Monday, November 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  6. thexhound wrote:

    this is the dumbest shit ive ever seen. cash? most places you get tattooed only except cash up until recently, and still check ID’s for corresponding info. this is just fear monger propaganda

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. melanom's wildcat.de blog on Friday, October 30, 2009 at 1:35 am

    [...] erstellt, der mich an den hatGothic-Aufklärungsbogen, den Soulcollector hier gepostet . Demnach macht sich verdächtig, wer mit Bargeld bezahlt, wer sich mit anderen das gleiche Tattoo machen [...]

  2. FBI, Ink Tv and gooseflesh on the top « Aniareads Weblog on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 10:04 am

    [...] Ink Tv and gooseflesh on the top I got to read about it on Zentastic first (and Shannon’s disclaimer right on the top of it really is heart-breaking as, personally, I think [...]

  3. [...] patronizing a local business, then you could be a suspected terrorist.  That’s according to FBI flyers which have been sent to tattoo shops as part of its “Communities Against Terrorism” [...]

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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