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Evaluating the Federal CVE Initiative

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $246,493)

President Obama has stated that the best way to prevent violent extremism inspired by [al Qaida] is to work with the Muslim American community "to identify signs of radicalization and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence." This statement reflects the Administrations strategy for countering violent extremism (CVE), which calls for creating partnerships between federal and local law enforcement agencies and impacted communities.

This project will evaluate the contribution of key federal agencies community engagement activities to the national CVE effort. The plan for implementing the initiative will be two years old when this project begins. Yet there has been no independent effort to inventory what the federal government is doing or begin assessing the program's effectiveness. The project will fill this gap by collecting information on the engagement efforts being conducted by U.S. Attorneys Offices, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center. These data collection efforts will include a survey of U.S. Attorneys Offices and in-depth interviews with key officials to catalogue federal outreach and engagement work. The impact of these efforts will begin to be assessed through focus groups of Muslim American community leaders in three cities.

The information collected will aid CVE policymakers. This research will explore not only the engagement strategies that are being used, but also identify the barriers to more effective cooperation between the community and the federal agencies and ideas on how to overcome them. Improving CVE is especially important following the Boston Marathon bombing, along with other recent "lone-wolf" terrorist incidents in the U.K and France, which have highlighted the difficulty of preventing attacks by individuals who have few, if any, connections with international terrorist organizations and do not leave many clues about their intentions to engage in violent extremism. Building trust between the federal agencies responsible for preventing terrorism and Muslim American communities is a critical step towards gaining the types of information that could be used to prevent a terrorist attack.


Date Created: September 19, 2013