Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 July 2019

Beyond the Headlines: The Minnesota model for fighting ISIS in the US

America faces a new counter-terrorism problem it is completely unprepared for

Despite waging the war on terror for nearly two decades, America has never attempted to win the battle of ideas at home. The country has no federal level counter-extremism programmes and no national model other than jail time for handling American citizens at home who support the views of radical groups around the world.

With roughly 80 people convicted of supporting terror groups set for release between now and 2024, there is no national system to reintegrate them into society or ensure they no longer harbour dreams of joining militant groups.

In Minnesota, many young people in the 100,000 strong Somali-American population of Minneapolis have been targeted by online recruiters from groups like ISIS and Al Shabab. Dozens have been arrested for supporting or trying to join the militants.

Even though ISIS has been defeated on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, the draw of the ideology still holds.

Now in Minnesota, a small programme is trying to work with young people drawn to extremism to guide them away from dangerous groups and reintegrate them into society.

This week, we hear from The National's reporter Stephen Star who spoke with those running the programme about what they are trying to do and why.

To read Stephen's full report, click here.

We’ll also hear from Nikita Malik, the director of the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society in London, to talk about such programmes and what to do about extremism.

We’ll also talk to Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at the Soufan Group in New York and author of the book After the Caliphate, to talk about why the world shouldn’t ignore ISIS’s enduring threat and what abandoning foreign fighters could mean.

A few weeks ago we looked at Europe’s response to its nationals who joined ISIS and what failing to act now could mean for a resurgence of the group. If you haven’t listened to that yet, catch up below.

Updated: July 11, 2019 06:59 PM

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