Federal document zeroes in on homegrown terrorist challenges

The Obama administration has published a scheme aimed at counteracting domestic violent fanaticism in the United States.

Released Thursday, the 20-page strategy describes specific steps to strengthen and expand cooperation with officials in communities that might be targeted by violent extremists.

The initiative says countering terrorism and raging zealotry inspired by al-Qaida, its affiliates and its adherents, is a top priority. It notes that other forms of extremism will not be ignored, and, as an example, mentions last July’s attacks by a right-wing extremist in Norway, saying “free societies face threats from a range of violent extremists.”

The proposal involves new efforts to study the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country. It also lists steps to identify communities that might be targeted by riotous zealots for recruitment and radicalization, linking them with federal, state and local anti-terrorism efforts.

The new initiative commits a task force of senior officials from a variety of departments to ensure that the federal government interacts closely with local communities. The panel will report to the president each year.

In August, President Barack Obama signed off on the overall national initiative to fight hysterical extremism. It follows a broader National Strategy for Counterterrorism that discussed threats from al-Qaida followers, who sometimes are U.S. citizens, it noted, and engaged in terrorism such as the 2009 shootings at the Fort Hood, Texas military base.

President Obama did not present a statement Thursday to coincide with the initiative’s release. It does, however, contain a quote from him in August in which he says the government is working to prevent all types of extremism that lead to violence, regardless of who inspires it.

The co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs said the document takes positive steps. But Independent Joseph Lieberman and Republican Susan Collins said in a statement that much more needs to be done and at a far faster pace, given the threat.

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