As stories of American citizens traveling to Syria to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadi terrorist organizations continue to inundate the news, US officials are increasingly stressing the importance of grassroots efforts to prevent domestic radicalization.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced he will introduce legislation to bolster local efforts to counter violent extremism by ensuring that federal resources are available for state and local officials for the creation and expansion of programs to engage communities that may be targeted by violent extremist radicalization.
The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Grants Act would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the use of Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security grants to deter, detect and disrupt radical Islamist extremists’ efforts to influence and recruit Americans.
“As we continue to witness more and more barbaric acts – whether it’s Boko Haram in Africa or ISIS in the Middle East – we must never become desensitized to violent extremists and their actions. The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Grants Act works to combat these groups on our home front,” Walker said. “CVE grants are centered on state and local law enforcement partnerships, and this legislation, which is a budget neutral solution, makes these vital grants a stated goal for the Department of Homeland Security.”
ISIS is known for their mastery of social media and online websites and forums as a mechanism for spreading propaganda and recruiting followers. Online tools have allowed terrorist organizations to radicalize across borders and infiltrate communities across the globe.
Walker believes the bill will help communities understand the threat of domestic radicalization and provide pathways to deradicalization. Since state and local authorities are on the frontlines, they need the appropriate tools to deter, detect and disrupt extremist efforts to influence and recruit Americans.
Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, will be co-sponsoring the bill.
“We must wage a more robust effort here at home to combat violent Islamist extremism by working with local communities to intervene when we see signs of it,” McCaul said. “As such, the CVE Grants Act will help state and local authorities by giving them thetools they need to root out the would-be terrorist in our hometowns.”
McCaul has also launched a review of the US strategy for countering violent extremism. Over the past several months, McCaul has written several letters to President Obama outlining gaps within the current administration’s approach to CVE.
Homeland Security Today previously reported that McCaul believes one of the principal reasons behind the administration’s failure to adequately address the CVE threat is its refusal to define the threat and identify these attacks for what they are: acts of Islamist jihadism.
“While ISIS and other jihadists groups continue to tailor their hateful and repressive ideology in order to appeal to and radicalize a younger generation within the United States and around the world, the president still refuses to call the threat what it is,” McCaul said.