By George Selim, Director of the DHS Office for Community Partnerships and the CVE Task Force.
One of the most powerful images I can show people is the front page of the Washington Post in December of 2014. A photo of two parents, both with downcast eyes and the quote, "We were just frozen," when they learned their three teenagers had run away from home to join Islamic State militants in Syria. This is part of a growing number of Americans who are attempting to travel to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State. And we anticipate more as recruiters from the Islamic State target youth on social media.
This was part of the discussion yesterday, when Lisa Monaco, President Obama's Homeland Security and Counterterrorism advisor visited our new offices for the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Community Partnerships and the interagency CVE Task Force. Monaco, who was joined by Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope, met with the Task Force to go over what we are doing to face this threat at home.
Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism advisor, meets with the interagency CVE Task Force.
President Obama and Secretary Johnson have made countering violent extremism a key focus of our work to secure the homeland. In the current threat environment, we have to build bridges to communities and support them; they are our best defense against efforts by violent extremists to recruit and radicalize.
At the Office for Community Partnerships, we are taking our support for communities to the next level. In the coming weeks, DHS will issue a notice of funding opportunity. Non-governmental organizations will be able to apply for grants to support and develop community-based programs to prevent and intervene in the process of radicalization. This appropriation by Congress, $10 million, is a modest start, but these grants will be an important step forward. We have opened the door to providing communities with new resources to lead at the local level.
We were honored to have President Obama's top homeland security advisors with us yesterday. It shows the dedication and focus the Administration has given to this critical mission. I know that promoting trust and building relationships with communities takes time and patience. But by continuing to seek understanding and promote respect for our individual rights, we can empower communities across this country to confront the existing threat. That is what it takes to protect the homeland.
The Office for Community Partnerships staff greet Lisa Monaco and Amy Pope for their meeting with the Task Force.