2 MN nonprofits get federal money to fight terror recruitment

The two organizations got more than $660,000 total.

Two Minneapolis nonprofits are getting federal money as part of an effort to fight violent extremism.

The grant money comes from the Department of Homeland Security, which awarded $10 million to 31 community organizations across the country.

The two Minneapolis organizations were awarded money for "developing resilience." They are:

  • Ka Joog, a Somali youth organization with community-based programs. It's getting $499,998.
  • Heartland Democracy Center, a nonprofit dedicated to civic engagement that recently finished the country's first rehab program for a defendant in a terrorism case (read more about that in this Wall Street Journal story). It will get $165,435.

The idea is the nonprofits will use the money to fund activities that will make it harder for terror groups to recruit people from within their community. They can also be used to help those who may be headed down a path towards violent extremism.

“In this age of self-radicalization and terrorist-inspired acts of violence, domestic-based efforts to counter violent extremism have become a homeland security imperative,” Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “And, I know from visiting numerous communities across this country that very often the best efforts to counter violent extremism are local, tailored to a particular community.”

Terrorism recruitment in Minnesota

Minneapolis has been the focus of other federal counter-terrorism efforts in recent years because of successful efforts by terror groups to recruit young Somali men (at least 20 Minnesota men have been charged with terrorism-related crimes). The city has the largest Somali population in North America.

A few years ago, the Department of Justice named Minneapolis a pilot city for a community-focused program that aims to build community resilience. Through the program, several Twin Cities nonprofits were awarded funds to develop mentorship programs, job training and after school programs in an effort to help fight terror recruitment locally.

The grant money that was awarded Friday was approved by Congress in 2016. Johnson says he hopes Congress will continue to provide this type of funding in the future, calling it a "homeland security imperative."

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