President Donald Trump’s deputies intend to overhaul President Barack Obama’s “Countering Violent Extremism” program to focus only on Islamist extremism, says Reuters.
The shift is not finalized, but is expected to reduce federal focus on non-Islamic extremism, reports Reuters, citing five unnamed people briefed on the matter. The shift may also cut off pending federal funding for Islamic groups.
The pending reorganization comes after widespread reports that Obama’s program has already failed, largely because of opposition by resident Muslim activists and groups, say some Republican lawmakers and news outlets.
The program, ‘Countering Violent Extremism,’ or CVE, would be changed to ‘Countering Islamic Extremism’ or ‘Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,’ the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.
The news outlet cites Hoda Hawa, director of policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), who said she learned of the push to refocus the CVE program “from tackling all violent ideology to only Islamist extremism” from unnamed U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials last week.
MPAC has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and has previously advocated for the removal of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the U.S. State Department list of designated terrorist groups.
In 2009, the Obama administration began to tout non-Islamic extremists, and painted conservative ideologies or affiliations as homegrown right-wing extremism, according to a report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “fusion center.” The CVE efforts began two years later in 2011.
During the rollout of Obama’s CVE program in 2015, the Obama administration focused on “right-wing extremists” and white supremacists while refusing to focus on Muslim extremism.
“Violent extremist threats come from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists in the United States, as well as international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL,” claimed Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS warned of the domestic right-wing terror threat in 2015 as Obama held a conference to focus his CVE program.
In contrast, the U.S. government blocked training about Islamic motivations and terminology from federal anti-terror efforts, at the request of Islamic political groups in the United States. His deputies also omitted “Islamic” or any related term or phrase from the CVE program’s lexicon, according to various public government documents explaining the effort. Even when alluding to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadist group in the CVE documents, the Obama administration opted to use the acronym “ISIL.”
The CVE program employed community partnerships, educational programs, and messaging to carry out its goals, which were described as engagement, training, and counter-propaganda.
“Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a pillar of the Administration’s strategic approach to counterterrorism, and is an increasingly critical component of a comprehensive and sustainable counterterrorism strategy that seeks to address the entire life cycle of radicalization to violent extremism,” declared Obama’s Department of State.