The White House released a plan Wednesday to combat the conversion of Americans to extremist ideologies by launching “local intervention teams” to assess the needs of would-be extremists, but not once does the document mention radical Islam.
The plan is the first update in five years of the Obama administration’s strategy for dealing with extremism, which comes after much criticism from both sides of the political aisle in Congress.
Republicans and Democrats complain that the administration is slow to roll out a serious response to countering the recruitment efforts of extremist groups, like the Islamic State, even after the terror attacks in New York, N.J., Saint Cloud, Minn., Orlando, Fla., and San Bernardino, Calif.
Groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, on the other hand, blast the administration for other reasons, namely that seemingly innocuous programs have been used to gather intelligence, which in turn creates distrust in the Muslim community towards other Muslims and to the federal government.
Congress will not have the authority to outright reject Wednesday’s plan, but members can decide to withhold funding.
The plan calls for local intervention teams comprised of community leaders to assess the needs of individuals on their way to converting to extremist ideologies like radical Islam.
The plan states that the Department of Justice should consider relying on de-radicalized extremists as counselors.
Federal prosecutors are prohibited from joining those teams and the plan also notes that law enforcement should be used as a last resort. For example, the individual in question, according to the plan, must “pose a threat or be immediately capable of committing a crime,” before law enforcement can act.
President Barack Obama is very purposeful in avoiding the use of “radical Islam” to describe terrorist organizations that rely on Islamic doctrine and symbolism.
“There is no doubt, and I’ve said repeatedly, where we see terrorist organizations like al Qaeda or ISIL — They have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism and death,” Obama said in late September.
Obama ostensibly objects to the phrase “radical Islam” because it places murderers into same category as peaceful Muslims.
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