WASHINGTON – The State Department’s new five-part approach to combating violent extremism takes the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups off the battlefield and into communities where the risk of radicalization is highest.
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced the revitalized plan at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, the day before the anniversary of the White House’s first summit on countering violent extremism.
Blinken noted the need for an improved strategy in the wake the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, which brought attention to new recruitment and organizational tactics used by radical groups to relay their message to people far-removed from the battlefield.
“The danger of violent extremism has slipped past the war’s frontlines and into the computers and onto the phones of every citizen in every corner of the world,” he said. “If we’re going to actually win in a sustained fashion the fight against violent extremism, it will not be through combat alone.”
The joint-strategy, which will be led by the State Department’s renamed Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, and USAID, uses non-military tactics to counter violent extremism at its root. The goal is to lessen its appeal for those who are most susceptible to extremist propaganda, before it has the chance to radicalize them.
The plan was first discussed at the White House summit last year, and has since been refined into five key components:
— Improve nations’ understanding of the tragic aspects of violent extremism and how it manifests itself in different communities
— Collaborate with groups at the international, state and local level to carry out effective community engagement programs to prevent the spread of extremism
— Address the underlying political and socio-economic factors that put people at the risk of radicalization, including weak governance and high unemployment
— Empower local voices to communicate messages of hope and inclusion, with the goal of reaching those experiencing the isolation that can lead to radicalization
— Implement rehabilitation programs in prisons around the world, where extremist messages frequently circulate and take hold