White House targets domestic extremism
WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday laid out a plan to implement a government strategy to combat homegrown domestic terrorism and any attempts by Al-Qaeda to seek to radicalize American Muslims.
The initiative commits the federal government to work closely with local authorities and communities that may be targeted by extremist groups, particularly Al-Qaeda as it reels from a US onslaught abroad.
“Protecting our nation?s communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization is a top national security priority,” said the document, known as the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP).
“It is an effort that requires creativity, diligence, and commitment to our fundamental rights and principles.
“Although the SIP will be applied to prevent all forms of violent extremism, we will prioritize preventing violent extremism and terrorism that is inspired by al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents.”
The strategy was released a day after US officials warned that the US military was under threat as homegrown Islamic extremists, including “radicalized troops,” pose a risk to military installations.
The only deadly terror strikes on US soil since those of September 11, 2001 have been against the military, with three separate attacks that left 17 people dead, most of them soldiers, according to a report released Wednesday at the first joint House-Senate hearing on homegrown terrorism.
The SIP plan commits a task force of senior officials from a wide range of departments to ensuring the federal government engages closely with local communities. It will report to the president annually.
The plan is a spin-off of a new National Counterterrorism Strategy released in June which warned the government must be vigilant for new efforts by Al-Qaeda to infiltrate US communities and inspire homegrown terrorism.
Senior officials said Thursday that as Washington had been successful in degrading Al-Qaeda overseas, the group and its adherents were becoming increasingly interested in recruiting followers already in the United States.
The document also calls for new efforts to analyze the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country.
“This direct communication allows violent extremists to bypass parents and community leaders,” the plan said.
“Because of the importance of the digital environment, we will develop a separate, more comprehensive strategy for countering and preventing violent extremist online radicalization.”