White House Targets Domestic Extremist Threats

Posted December 8th, 2011 at 10:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The Obama administration has released a plan aimed at countering so-called homegrown violent extremism in the United States.

The 20-page initiative, released Thursday, describes specific steps to strengthen and expand cooperation with officials in communities that might be targeted by violent extremists.

The plan says countering violent extremism and terrorism inspired by al-Qaida, its affiliates and its adherents, is a top priority. It notes that other forms of extremism will not be ignored, and, as an example, mentions last July's attacks by a right-wing extremist in Norway, saying “free societies face threats from a range of violent extremists.”

The plan calls for new efforts to analyze the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country. It also lists steps to identify communities that might be targeted by violent extremists for recruitment and radicalization, linking them with federal, state and local anti-terrorism efforts.

The new initiative commits a task force of senior officials from different departments to ensure that the federal government engages closely with local communities. The task force will report to the president annually.

In August, President Barack Obama signed off on the overall national strategy to fight violent extremism. It follows a broader National Strategy for Counterterrorism that discussed threats from al-Qaida followers, who it noted, sometimes are U.S. citizens, and engaged in terrorism such as the 2009 shootings at the Fort Hood, Texas military base.

President Obama did not issue a statement Thursday to coincide with the plan's release. It does, however, contain a quote from him in August in which he says the government is working to prevent all types of extremism that lead to violence, regardless of who inspires it.

The co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs said the plan takes positive steps. But Independent Joseph Lieberman and Republican Susan Collins said in a statement that much more needs to be done and at a far faster pace, given the threat.