The Latest: Feds: Anti-extremism unfocused on race, religion
BOSTON (AP) — The Latest on federally funded efforts to prevent domestic terrorism (all times local):
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman says the agency’s approach to preventing domestic terrorism isn’t based on race or religion, even as some locally funded efforts have chosen to focus on specific minority or Muslim communities.
Chad Wood is a Homeland Security spokesman who responded to The Associated Press on Thursday after the news cooperative published a report on anti-extremism efforts five years after the Boston Marathon bombings.
He says local cities and states have the flexibility to tailor their domestic terrorism prevention programs based on their “unique challenges and demographics.” But he says the department agrees that extremism and radicalization exists across all cultures.
In Massachusetts, where a $425,000 federal terrorism prevention program in Boston is focused on the Somali community, some Somali leaders have complained that the focus on their community will only create deeper divisions and do more harm than good.
Five years after two brothers who had been living in America for about a decade bombed the Boston Marathon, federally funded community programs to prevent attacks by homegrown extremists are barely underway and face an uncertain future.
These projects grew out of a strategy developed during the Obama administration. They try to steer young people away from extremism.
But they have been hobbled almost from the start by suspicion and mistrust among Muslims. And it’s unclear whether the strategy will continue to be funded under the Trump administration.