Pilot Programs Are Key to our Countering Violent Extremism Efforts

February 18, 2015

Courtesy of the Attorney General

The Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI, continues to engage in outreach at the local level to foster trust, improve awareness, and educate communities about violence risk factors in order to stop radicalization to violence before it starts. DOJ long has been extremely active in community based outreach across a broad range of issues.  During the last three years alone, our United States Attorneys have leveraged their unique convening authorities to lead more than 2,500 engagement-related events in their communities.

We are now working with our partners to build on past successes, and DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) selected three pilot regions to identify promising practices that will inform and inspire community-led efforts throughout the nation. The key to the pilot programs is to broaden the base of community leaders and key stakeholders involved at the local level in order to help eliminate conditions that lead to alienation and violent extremism, and to empower young people and other vulnerable communities to reject destructive ideologies.

The cities were chosen based on their existing achievements with community engagement.

Greater Boston: The region was selected because of its existing collaborative efforts and nationally-recognized success with developing robust comprehensive violence prevention and intervention strategies. The overall project goal is to increase the capacity of community and government as a way to protect vulnerable individuals and the nation from violent extremism.  The locally-driven framework was developed by a collaborative of non-governmental, governmental, and academic stakeholders from the Greater Boston region. 

Existing prevention and early intervention strategies that can be enhanced as well as new strategies that require resources for implementation were explored. Although the initiative was developed to counter violent extremism, the solutions build upon other prevention related strategies that are currently being implemented through broader efforts by public health, mental health, non-profit organizations, private partnerships, government, and others. 

Greater Los Angeles: The Foundations of the Los Angeles CVE Framework go back to 2008, when the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sought to build upon work started by faith- and community-based organizations. Now involving the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and federal agencies that include DHS, DOJ, and FBI, the Los Angeles Framework is built upon the concept that strong local communities, well-equipped families and engaged local institutions represent the best defense against violent extremism. With a commitment to preserving civil rights and civil liberties, community engagement programs seek to establish trust and build partnerships. With a “whole of government” and a “whole of community” approach, the Los Angeles Framework consists of three pillars: prevention, intervention and interdiction, each of which aims to address community needs and mitigate a range of risk factors. Guided by ongoing community input, specific efforts to combat violent extremism in Los Angeles include forums, conferences, workshops, advisory groups, and continued dialogue with community leaders.

The Twin Cities: Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in North America, the overwhelming majority of whom are productive and peaceful members of the Twin Cities community. However, since 2007, overseas terror organizations like Al Shabaab and ISIL have targeted some in the community to travel overseas and fight. This included 26-year-old Shirwa Ahmed, a Somali-born American citizen, who on October 29, 2008, became the first documented American suicide bomber. Minnesota’s Somali community has expressed a desire to see this cycle of recruiting end. Community leaders are working closely with law enforcement and other stakeholders on a community-led effort to address what the community has identified as the root causes of radicalization. This effort seeks to bring together community-based organizations and local partners, including the Minneapolis and St. Paul school systems, interfaith organizations, nonprofits and NGOs, and state, county, and local governments. These organizations will together create community-led intervention teams. In addition, the plan brings mentorship programs, scholarships, afterschool programs, and job trainers and placement officers into the Somali community to build community resilience and address the root causes of radicalization.

We encourage communities across the country that are interested in learning more about these programs to contact their local U.S. Attorney office and speak with the CVE coordinator.

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Updated February 20, 2015