The FCWG is the first community-led engagement with the local police designed specifically to reduce homegrown radicalization by creating public awareness about the risk factors and empowering the requisite experts to intervene with at-risk individuals. The association includes government officials, trauma-informed counselors, police officers, youth activists, faith leaders and violence prevention experts who are committed to reducing the precursors of violent extremism, such as social alienation, psychological disorders, political grievances and al-Qaida-inspired ideologies. In its August 2013 kickoff meeting, more than 70 members of various faith communities came together with county officials and the police to show their support for the collaborative effort.
Federal, state and local governments must intensify and expand local partnerships such as these across the nation. One by one, these efforts could provide communities and law enforcement with the resources necessary to carry out effective interventions for at-risk or radicalized individuals. Pursuing a dual track of empowering grass-roots organizations and bolstering the relationships between law enforcement and the faith community, the U.S. government can dramatically improve the capacity of communities to be a first line of defense against homegrown extremists. But they can only thrive and spread if the federal government is willing to commit money, not just lip service.
Hedieh Mirahmadi is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute.