Trump administration reportedly set to refocus counterterrorism efforts

Strategy Room: Christopher Hale and Kevin McCullough on how the White House will try to convince Congress to back his plan


The Trump administration is reportedly looking to revamp the U.S. program used to counter violent extremism in order to focus directly on Islamic extremism.

Reuters reported Thursday that the current program known as “Countering Violent Extremism” would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” Sources told Reuters the program would no longer go after certain groups, such as white supremacists, who have also carried out violent acts across the U.S.

The move would align with Trump’s campaign vows to fight Islamic extremism and his criticisms of the Obama administration for being weak in its fight against the Islamic State.

The current program hopes to deter would-be terrorists through community campaigns, education or social media campaigns through Google and Facebook, according to Reuters. However, a Homeland Security source told the news website that plans to change the name and focus began in December.

The Obama administration’s tactics to combat extremism involved local governments and police departments, universities and non-profit groups. The program hoped to build relationships with community groups and involve them in the counterterrorism effort. But the program repeatedly came under fire from Congressional Republicans who said it was too politically correct.

Some critics fear that the rebranding could make things more difficult with building relationships with the Muslim community, especially after the outcry over Trump’s executive order to halt immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“That is concerning for us because they are targeting a faith group and casting it under a net of suspicion,” Hoda Hawa, the director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told Reuters.

The funding for the current program had already been approved by Congress and grants were already given out before Trump’s presidency began. A source told Reuters Homeland Security Chief John Kelly was still reviewing the matter.

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