Bipartisan Policy Center Issues Recommendations for Coherent Counter-Radicalization Strategy

Kean and Hamilton cite need for coordinated effort to counter increasingly homegrown and diversified al-Qaeda threat post-9/11

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) released a report, Preventing Violent Radicalization in America, which makes recommendations to better prepare the United States for the evolving threat posed by violent extremists influenced by al Qaeda's ideology.  The recommendations aim to inform ongoing policy development by the Administration and Congress to address this growing challenge.  Last September, NSPG released a report, Assessing the Terrorist Threat, which concluded that the lack of a coherent approach towards domestic counter-radicalization has left the nation vulnerable to a diversifying and intensifying threat.  

Under the leadership and direction of former 9/11 Commission Chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton and NSPG members, the report was authored by BPC Visiting Scholar Peter Neumann and is based on a comprehensive review of current policy, lessons from counter-radicalization programs abroad, as well as interviews with a wide range of current and former senior U.S. counterterrorism officials at the federal, state, and local levels.  

"This report provides policy recommendations for establishing a coherent counter-radicalization strategy.  While a national counter-radicalization effort requires the federal government to take the initiative and provide direction, state and local officials and leaders of community organizations will play a critical role," said Governor Kean.  "Those leaders and officials are in the best position to counter the rhetoric of violent Islamist extremists and intervene in the lives of individuals who are susceptible to being indoctrinated by al Qaeda's ideology."

Key recommendations in the report include the need for the White House to be the single point from which counter-radicalization policy is led and coordinated.  The report also recommends that a lead department or agency be designated for each policy function – training, outreach, messaging, capacity-building, and information-sharing – to oversee its implementation across the government.  Current federal outreach activities are "no more than touches" and fail to have any lasting impact.  Federal agencies need to stimulate local activities and provide incentives for state and local governments to increase and sustain outreach efforts despite tightened budgets and spending cuts.  To do so, officials must look for opportunities to leverage existing government and private sector programs.

"As we approach the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, we face a threat from al Qaeda that is more diverse and more complex than ever," said Congressman Hamilton.  "To face this challenge, U.S. policy will require strong leadership and coordination, and the Administration should lead this effort across government."

Currently, much of the training that is offered and funded by the federal government is not aimed specifically at counter-radicalization and engagement efforts have failed to develop the necessary long-term relationships that are key to making communities resilient to violent radicalization.  In some cases, poorly designed training programs may have been counterproductive to facilitating local engagement.  The report found that there is a dearth of federal grant guidance and training standards that would allow grantees to ensure that counter-radicalization training is carried out by qualified personnel and meets policy objectives.  It recommends that the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice overhaul their procedures for awarding grants.

"Online radicalization poses a grave threat in the United States, making it all the more important that we have a coherent and effective counter-radicalization strategy," said Governor Kean.  "While we will never forget what happened nearly ten years ago, we must also continually reassess where our policy stands.  Our strategy going forward will require several elements, including engagement and outreach, messaging, and training – and it must be implemented by not just the federal government, but by state and local officials and other community leaders," continued Congressman Hamilton.  

Click here to read the full report.  

NSPG is co-chaired by former 9/11 Commission Chairman Governor Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and is composed of a distinguished bipartisan group of experts, including former U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. Senator E. Spencer Abraham, Peter Bergen, Dr. Stephen Flynn, Dr. John Gannon, Dr. Bruce Hoffman, former Congressman Dave McCurdy, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge, former Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Frances Townsend, former U.S. Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh, former Congressman Jim Turner, and former Secretary of Agriculture and BPC Senior Fellow Dan Glickman.  Rob Strayer, formerly on the staff of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is the Executive Director.  

About the Bipartisan Policy Center:

Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation, and respectful dialogue. With projects in multiple issue areas, the BPC combines politically-balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.  For more information, please visit our website: www.bipartisanpolicy.org.

SOURCE Bipartisan Policy Center



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