Politics

Obama Spends Big On City Programs To Combat Extremism, With Not Much Accomplished

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The Obama administration’s effort to fund city programs in order to combat extremism in Muslim communities has fallen flat.

Minneapolis, Boston and Los Angeles are three of the cities chosen to test out the  Countering Violent Extremism pilot program, The Associated Press reports.

Following the atrocities in Brussels, there’s been a renewed focus on Obama administration efforts to quell potential festering of domestic Islamic radicalism. The idea is to make sure that what happened in Belgium doesn’t happen in the U.S.

Although the program launched almost a year and a half ago, almost no progress has been made. Minneapolis seems the furthest along, but poor management has led to a failure to launch, leaving Somali youth incredibly vulnerable to outside subversion and recruitment.

A total of six organizations in Minneapolis have received $300,000 to ameliorate mental health and employment problems in the Somali community, though no actual programs have become operational.

City officials in Boston and Los Angeles, meanwhile, have declined to even distribute the federal funds to organizations at this point.

Despite the fact that the programs have failed to launch more than a year after the Department of Justice distributed funds to cities, coordinator Brandy Donini-Melanson said she wouldn’t count it as a failure because that can only be determined after the efforts get off the ground.

“I wouldn’t call this a failure,” Donini-Melanson, who works in the office of Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, told The Associated Press. “Let us get to a point where we have some funded programs and where there is some level of measurement to determine whether these efforts are successful or not.”

The program’s very existence has attracted criticism from Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations. According to Haroon Manjlai, the programs essentially “operate under the assumption that Muslims are a national security threat.” But undeniably, the vast majority of recruits to the Islamic State living in the United States are Muslim, a fact that even the Obama administration seems to recognizes, given that the cities part of the program are home to large Muslim populations.

The Obama administration has opened active investigations into ISIS-related activity in all 50 states. Of those 50 states, 24 have had at least one arrest. Approximately 38 percent of those arrested are converts to Islam and 87 percent are male. Nearly half, 45 percent, either tried to travel or successfully traveled abroad to aid Islamic extremism. The average age is 26-years-old.

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