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White House unveils new strategy to combat homegrown terror

Aamer Madhani USA Today 12/09/2011 23:57
White House unveils new strategy to combat homegrown terror - terrorism - security - USA

The White House unveiled a strategy Thursday aimed at battling homegrown terrorism that emphasizes better coordination with local authorities.

The United States has made significant progress in degrading al-Qaeda's capabilities in recent years—President Obama noted today that 22 of the top 30 al-Qaeda operatives have been killed or captured under his watch. Intelligence officials suspect the terror organization is increasingly focused on seeking U.S.-born collaborators to carry out attacks. There have been 33 plots involving homegrown terrorists uncovered since 2009, according to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

"Protecting our nation's communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization is a top national security priority," according to the strategic document. "It is an effort that requires creativity, diligence and commitment to our fundamental rights and principles."

The strategy draws broad outlines for fighting extremism and follows up on the White House's National Strategy for Counterterrorism, which was released in June.

In a speech timed with the release of the counterterrorism strategy, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said the United States needed to avoid playing into al-Qaeda's strategy that "seeks to bleed us financially by drawing us into long, costly wars that also inflame anti-American sentiment." Brennan stressed that the White House would emphasize combating al-Qaeda's efforts to inspire people within the USA to carry out attacks on American soil.

One interesting facet of the new document is a call for teaching local officials to recognize violent extremism. The strategy suggests federal and local authorities tweak the way they approach the American Muslim community on the issue.