Outreach groups are still crucial

by Daily Editorial Board

Last week, six Minnesota men were arrested for allegedly attempting to go to Syria to join the Islamic State. The men are now being charged with a number of terrorism-related offenses. 
Unfortunately, efforts to deter terror recruitment in Minnesota have come under scrutiny, as the six men — who have ties to the state’s Somali community — seemed determined to reach Syria.
Some are calling for increased efforts to stem recruitment at a community level. Others, such as Pioneer Press columnist Joe Soucheray, say, “[t]his is not the fault of the government being one program short of dissuading these characters from taking the bad road.” 
While outreach programs won’t solve everything, we must not slow down efforts to help at-risk individuals. 
Consider the case of Abdullahi Yusuf, an Inver Grove Heights man who, at 18 years old, was stopped by authorities last year while trying to board a flight at the international airport. However, after receiving support from a nonprofit called Heartland Democracy, Yusuf has started to turn his life around and is showing promising signs of reform. 
We believe there is no real way to measure the success of efforts to deter terrorist recruitment. It’s too easy to say efforts have failed because of a few people who have left, than to point to all of the people who have changed their views or been prevented from leaving. We commend organizations like Heartland Democracy for their efforts and urge continued support for at-risk communities.