Counter-Terrorism Programs Still Don’t Work, Target Minority Communities: Study

Funding for Countering Violent Extremism programs has increased under the Trump Administration, but researchers at NYU’s Brennan Center found the programs still don’t work, and continue to unfairly target minority communities—particularly Muslims.

Funding for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs has gone up under the Trump administration, but the programs still don’t work, according to a report released by the Brennan Center For Justice.

Researchers found that the amount of CVE funding going to law enforcement has tripled, from $764,000 to $2,349,000 and programs unjustly target minority communities, such as Muslims, LGBTQ Americans, Black Lives Matter Activists, immigrants, and refugees.

“Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs have a long and troubled history, from before and including the Obama White House,” authors said. “These programs unfairly target Muslim and minority communities as inherently susceptible to terrorism.”

Authors’ Faiza PatelAndrew LindsaySophia DenUyl said the programs also conflate community services and intelligence-gathering, often under false pretenses, undermining trust between law enforcement and communities.

And there is no evidence that they provide any national security benefit, which is unsurprising since they rely on theories and assumptions about terrorism that have been empirically disproven, they added.

Yet 85 percent of CVE grants, and over half of CVE programs, explicitly target minority communities.

More, the programs target young children (as young as five years old) to report suspicious behavior by parents or fellow students. 14 of the 26 programs funded by the Department of Homeland Security target schools and students, the study found.

CVE programs can look like any of the following:

  1. Intervention: Identifying individuals as potential terrorists mostly based on vague and unproven indicators, such as feelings of alienation, experience of racism or discrimination, difficulties in school or career, searching for sense of meaning or community, bullying, and economic hardship. These programs generally involve training people who are likely to come into contact with young people, including schoolteachers, to spot these signs. Once such individuals are identified, these programs often provide or refer them to counseling or mental health care, a process that almost always involves law enforcement. Some intervention programs do not include a referral element, but rather focus on a “train the trainer” model.
  2. Social Services: Programs to fund or facilitate the provision of health, education, and social services to American Muslim and other communities, based on the theory that adverse economic and social conditions facilitate terrorism. Social services may also be part of an intervention program as described above.
  3. CVE Online: Efforts to create or promote messages that are thought to counter the appeal of groups like ISIS and encourage reporting of so-called “extremist content” so that it can be removed from the Internet.
  4. Community Outreach: Traditional approaches to building relationships between law enforcement and communities, such as visits by police to community events and houses of worship.
  5. Deradicalization: Measures aimed at currently or formerly incarcerated individuals identified as at risk of violent extremism, such as support services and counseling upon release.

A full copy of the report can be found here.

Megan Hadley is a staff writer at The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.