Defeating Ideologically Inspired Violent Extremism: A Bipartisan Approach for the Trump Administration

The Trump administration officials have been clear that countering the ideology driving groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda will be a high priority for this administration. Executive orders on travel to particular Islamic majority countries and dispensing with “political correctness” are examples of the strategy of the new administration. Reports have even surfaced that the administration may change “countering violent extremism” to “countering Islamic extremism.” Although Islamist extremism poses an immediate threat to the U.S. security, having a narrow strategy leads to vulnerabilities and gaps in homeland security.

Installing a larger strategy to “prevent and counter the full range of extremist ideologies posing security threats to the United States” is the goal of a new bipartisan report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The report, titled “Defeating Ideologically Inspired Violent Extremism“, seeks to use federal backing for an “array of programs” to prevent radicalization from taking root in local communities. Using a three-tiered approach, the strategy seeks to limit exposure to extremist ideology, spot potential problems and respond, and rehabilitate formerly radicalized individuals. Although the majority of the recommendations take place outside the criminal justice system, such as social workers and health counselors, a “connective tissue” to law enforcement will remain in case violence seems imminent.

The strategy of “prevent and counter violent extremism” seeks to become a whole-of-society movement to build resilient communities. The report further states that the strategy “is practical and programmatic and has to do with how good-governance and public safety programs actually work on the ground in local communities across the country.” The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) provides numerous resources to homeland security personnel seeking to understand theories and proactive measures to prevent terrorism. (Some resources may require HSDL login)