- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger says he plans to stay involved in national counter-extremism efforts and has plans to build a network of private-sector groups to combat violent radicalization and hate crimes.

Luger, appointed by President Barack Obama, was among 46 federal prosecutors who recently resigned under the new administration.

Luger told the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/2pGixH1 ), he will resume practicing law in the Twin Cities and has told prospective employers he plans to set up a support network for early intervention and disengagement.

“It will look different in every city,” Luger said. “It will be a bringing together of Jewish community organizations, Muslim community organizations, civic organizations - because this problem spans the ideological spectrum and it spans communities.”

As U.S. attorney, Luger led a pilot project to counter violent extremism which focused on bolstering social services in the Somali community. His office also prosecuted nine men who were convicted last year for plotting to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Luger said Thursday that a national network might include groups such as Life After Hate and the Minneapolis nonprofit Heartland Democracy, which worked with Abdullahi Yusuf in the first civic engagement program in a terrorism case.

“It gives an opportunity for him to continue the messaging and leadership and coalition-building that he started, while taking off his prosecutor hat,” said Mary McKinley, executive director of Heartland Democracy. “Which I think is what most people were hesitant about.”

Seamus Hughes, deputy director for George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, praised Luger’s decision, saying he is a rare official able to court private funding for such work, which can be complicated by liability concerns.

“Andy, with his background, could have chosen 1,000 different avenues to live a very nice comfortable life but instead is going this route that is covered with controversy and will be hit from all sides,” Hughes said. “There’s not much upside other than he knows from meeting with these families that he had an obligation to find a different way.”

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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