Reuters: White supremacists to be eliminated from domestic terror program

Reuters reports today that the new administration will revamp the “Countering Violent Extremism” program to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States. It cites unnamed sources.

Some Republicans in Congress have long assailed the program as politically correct and ineffective, asserting that singling out and using the term “radical Islam” as the trigger for many violent attacks would help focus deterrence efforts.

Others counter that branding the problem as “radical Islam” would only serve to alienate more than three million Americans who practice Islam peacefully.

Many community groups, meanwhile, had already been cautious about the program, partly over concerns that it could double as a surveillance tool for law enforcement.

Hoda Hawa, director of policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said she was told last week by people within DHS that there was a push to refocus the CVE effort from tackling all violent ideology to only Islamist extremism.

“That is concerning for us because they are targeting a faith group and casting it under a net of suspicion,” she said.

The CVE program aims to deter groups or potential lone attackers through community partnerships and educational programs or counter-messaging campaigns, Reuters notes.

Community groups in Minneapolis have received grants in the past focused on at-risk youth in the Somali community.

Critics, however, have said the program lacks oversight — and safeguards against surveillance of their communities, and stigmatizes them.

Related: Minnesota Somali nonprofit declines $500,000 federal grant (MPR News)

Citing Trump, Minneapolis Somali nonprofit rejects $500,000 counterextremism grant (Star Tribune)