On the heels of the devastating terrorist attacks in Orlando and Istanbul last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday announced $10 million in federal grants for local communities to combat homegrown violent extremism.
The Fiscal Year 2016 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Grant Program will support and scale local community efforts to prevent radicalization, counter extremist propaganda, and curb terrorist recruitment efforts. The program specifically targets those communities that have been targeted by violent extremists.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stressed that these grants could play an important role in building community resilience. State, local and tribal governments, as well as non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education, are eligible to apply.
“As I have said before, given the nature of the evolving terrorist threat, building bridges to local communities is as important as any of our other homeland security missions,” said Johnson. “This new grant program is an important step forward in these efforts and reflects the Department’s continued commitment to protect the homeland and uphold our values.”
In addition, the CVE Grant Program seeks to develop and support US efforts to combat the online recruitment efforts of violent extremists. Foreign terrorist organizations and domestic terrorists are increasingly using social media and other on-line tools to recruit and inspire individuals to action.
As Homeland Security Today previously reported, it is no secret that social networking sites have become hotbeds for terrorist activity. Over the past several years, Islamist jihadi organizations in particular, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, have demonstrated mastery of social media as a mechanism for spreading propaganda, recruiting followers and luring thousands of foreign fighters abroad to receive jihadi training in Iraq and Syria.
The grant program was developed by the DHS Office for Community Partnerships, which leads the Department’s CVE mission, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
CVE has become integral to DHS’s mission. Earlier this year, Johnson established a CVE Task Force to tackle the challenge of deterring radicalization and recruitment of violent extremists in a unified and coordinated manner.
The CVE Task Force is permanently housed within DHS as an interagency task force primarily managed by DHS and the Department of Justice, with supplementary staffing contributed by additional supporting departments and agencies.
“Countering violent extremism has become a homeland security imperative, and it is a mission to which I am personally committed,” said Johnson in reference to the newly established CVE Task Force.