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How to counter extremist groups? US summit puts Minnesota in spotlight


As the U.S. considers how to fight radical groups that are recruiting new fighters in American cities, a White House summit meeting is putting the Twin Cities center stage.

The three-day Summit on Countering Violent Extremism opened Tuesday with the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota and Hennepin County's sheriff playing leading roles.

But the Washington Post reports the real model for how the White House hopes to prevent a Charlie Hebdo-style attack in the U.S. is a teacher and imam from St. Paul named Abdisalam Adam.

Adam represents an approach that involves working with the leaders of local communities to prevent recruitment by radical groups, the Post says.

As Yahoo News explains, those in the Twin Cities who suspect a relative or friend is being recruited can call "community intervention teams" of religious and civic leaders.

Andrew Luger, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, tells Yahoo he met with friends and family of some of the young Somali-Americans who left the Twin Cities to become foreign fighters. Luger says relatives noticed a change in those men but did not want to go to law enforcement about it and weren't sure who else to turn to.

He says the new teams will provide an alternative.

Luger talked more about efforts to stem terrorist recruiting in an interview with KSTP.

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Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, part of the Minnesota delegation attending the summit, tells KSTP "...local law enforcement agencies should be on the front lines helping educate and strengthen our communities to prevent or disrupt these threats."

But the involvement of law enforcement agencies is what makes some Somali-Americans wary of the government's new approach.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations is recommending the program be independent of law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, MinnPost reports.

Teacher and imam Abdisalam Adam tells the Washington Post many of his fellow Somali-Americans are deeply suspicious of the initiative, seeing it as a guise for intelligence gathering.

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