- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2016

The Obama administration is launching a new effort to counter online propaganda from the Islamic State and other extremist groups and to prevent radicalization inside the U.S., officials announced Friday.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security will form a Countering Violent Extremism Task Force that will focus on evaluating and coordinating activities aimed at diffusing violent extremism efforts in the homeland.

Meanwhile, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) will be tasked will revamping communications efforts in order to ramp up messaging with foreign audiences to counter the prominent social media capabilities of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.


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“At this critical stage in the fight against Daesh — and in the global effort to counter violent extremism — the GEC will lead the effort to synchronize messaging to foreign audiences that will counter the destructive messages of violent extremist groups,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement issued Friday.

Officials were not immediately available to discuss the cost of the initiatives.



The White House doubled down on efforts to combat radicalization at home in February when it hosted a summit on countering violent extremism, known as CVE.

And recent terror attacks that were linked to or inspired by the Islamic State have highlighted the need for such efforts, officials said.

“The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino this winter underscored the need for the United States and our partners in the international community and the private sector to deny violent extremists like ISIL fertile recruitment ground,” said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.

But efforts have faced skepticism from those who question the methods employed, including some civil rights groups and Muslim communities concerned that some tactics include spying on Muslim communities under the guise of offering social services.

The announcement comes the same day that senior Obama administration officials — including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — are meeting with Silicon Valley executives to discuss the role social media plays in spreading the ideology of terrorist groups.

The CVE task force announced Friday will be housed under the Department of Homeland Security and receive support and staffing from additional agencies such as the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center. The task force will look at addressing gaps in the government’s CVE programs and activities as well as evaluate those efforts, according to a fact sheet issued by DHS on the effort.

Part of the new focus of the State Department’s center will be to empower and enable foreign government agencies and partners “who are able to speak out against these groups and provide an alternative to ISIL’s nihilistic vision,” according to the department.

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