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Title Al Qaeda - Warning: Cults are Recruiting the Vulnerable
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Al Qaeda - Warning: Cults are Recruiting the Vulnerable September 20, 2001 Shock, disempowerment, vulnerability. All of these are reasonable reactions to last week's horrible attack upon Americans and their government and financial institutions, the cultural framework that makes us all feel strong. "Unfortunately, at a time when many Americans are feeling down, there is another threat coming from within our borders," says Steven Hassan, director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center in Somerville MA. "Cults are out aggressively recruiting, preying on Americans' sense of vulnerability and helplessness. People are most susceptible to cult recruitment when they are in psychological distress due to divorce, economic woes, or death of a loved one. Taking advantage of this fact, Scientologists in the guise of 'grief counselors' have been gaining access to relatives and friends of those missing in New York and Washington D.C. The Church of Scientology even managed to get their 'National Mental Health Hot Line' telephone number broadcast last weekend on a cable news network. Executives were reportedly embarrassed that they didn¹t double check the number first. Scientologists have also been leaving leaflets at the homes of grieving relatives. There are steps people can take to prevent loved ones from falling victim to this subtle threat. "People should contact their family and friends, especially those that have been distant. It's time to reestablish a connection," says Hassan. "If you suspect your loved one is getting involved in a destructive group, it's important to avoid getting confrontational or overly emotional. Adopt a curious yet concerned stance. Try to solicit as much information as possible. Don't ask, 'are you being brainwashed?' or 'is that a cult?' Ask for any literature but be cautious about going to meetings without being properly prepared. I have repeatedly heard of people getting sucked in while checking out a group." "It is essential to be a 'good consumer'," Hassan continues. "Check out a person or an organization's credentials and proceed slowly. Go to the Internet and do your own independent research. If a group is legitimate, it will stand up to scrutiny. It will not pressure people to make commitments before there is complete disclosure. Legitimate groups will not lie, manipulate or use phobias to enslave members." People can use Hassan's BITE model to evaluate the potential destructiveness of a group, or to see if their loved ones are in danger. BITE is an acronym for Behavior control, Information control, Thought control, and Emotional control; the information is available free of charge on Hassan's website, www.freedomofmind.com (under Resources). In addition, Hassan is the author of 'Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves' (Freedom of Mind Press, 2000), detailing his more sophisticated approach to cult intervention, the Strategic Interaction Approach, a goal oriented, therapeutic course of action that can be used by relatives, friends and anyone who wants to help. Contact: Florence Tambone (781) 643-3295

ABOUT STEVE HASSAN Steve Hassan has been involved in educating the public about mind control and destructive cults for more than twenty five years. He is a licensed Mental Health Counselor and holds a Master's Degree in counseling psychology from Cambridge College. For more information about Hassan's background, please click here. In addition, Hassan is the author of two books dealing with cults, including Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves (Freedom of Mind Press, 2000), detailing his more sophisticated approach to cult intervention, the Strategic Interaction Approach, a goal oriented, therapeutic course of action that can be used by relatives, friends and anyone who wants to help.