Government to outline steps to combat extremism attacks

Posted at 10:14 AM, Feb 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-17 18:17:38-05

The Obama administration will use a summit on countering violent extremism this week to outline steps for fighting groups beyond Islamic State while showing off current efforts in three U.S. cities, two officials said.

The three-day meeting starting Tuesday in Washington will include officials from the cities along with representatives from more than 60 nations to discuss strategies to combat the violence, such as attacks carried out by individuals in Sydney, Ottawa and Paris, according to an official briefing reporters Monday on condition of not being identified.

A communique outlining further steps will be released on Thursday, the official said.

The Summit on Countering Violent Extremism will highlight the successes in Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, the officials said, and be a complement and not a replacement for efforts to fight Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for killing journalists and aid workers and more than 20 Egyptian Christians in Libya this week.

For more than a decade, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have sought to head off larger plots directed by terrorist groups based overseas. The recent "lone- wolf" incidents outside the U.S. — one or two attackers acting independently of global networks — didn't trigger the post- Sept. 11 tripwires.

And as recently as last week, U.S. officials told lawmakers that groups such as Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria and also is known as ISIL, have become adept at using social media and the Internet to promote a jihadist message and might incite violence by home-grown extremists.

"The FBI remains concerned the recent calls by ISIL and its supporters on violent extremist web forums, and the recent events in Europe could continue to motivate homegrown extremists to conduct attacks in the homeland," Michael Steinbach, a top FBI counter-terrorism official, told the House Homeland Security Committee.

President Barack Obama will speak twice during the meeting. Vice President Joe Biden will moderate a discussion Tuesday with the local aides, including from the three cities where programs have succeeded, the official said.

Obama administration officials sought to avoid describing the three-day meeting as designed to counter Muslim extremism. The officials said recent attacks in Paris, Libya and Sydney were carried out by extremists saying they're acting in the name of Islam, while noting those actions don't represent Islam and that threats worldwide go beyond any one religion.