Engage people to prevent terrorism

by Daily Editorial Board

Earlier this month, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pled guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. In his account, a group of his friends discussed plans of going to Syria to join the terrorist organization. They had communicated with Syrian fighters as they finalized their plans.
Now, Warsame is anticipated to join the only counterterrorism rehabilitation program in the country. This type of program aims to encourage terrorism offenders to correct their ideologies.
A congressional report released last September revealed that Minnesota leads the country in the number of people who have pledged allegiance to ISIS. Several members of the Somali community in the Twin Cities area have also left to join Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group based in Somalia.
While correcting the actions of criminals is a noble goal, there is little positive evidence for the efficacy of de-radicalization programs. In part because of the variety of backgrounds which could lead an individual to join a terrorist group, there is currently no blueprint for successful disengagement. A rehabilitation program, experts argue, is limited to cases pertaining to brainwashing.
While rehabilitation programs have value, we urge Minneapolis and the state at large to place more resources in preventative anti-recruitment measures. Officials’ main efforts should focus on integrating marginalized communities into the city’s network of economic and social opportunities. As an example, local mentorship programs in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood are something to emulate.  Fostering community engagement programs like these will help build trust and prevent recruitment.