Minnesota influence at White House summit on extremism

The three-day White House's summit on countering violent extremism is underway, with a strong Minnesota presence. Opening remarks from Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday talked about Minneapolis as an example of a city moving ahead with programs to do just that.

The White House is using the conference to stir a sense of urgency about the challenge of preventing home-grown terrorism.

"Societies have to provide an affirmative alternative for immigrant communities, a sense of opportunity, a sense of belonging that discredits the terrorist appeal to fear, isolation, hatred, resentment," Biden said.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Minnesota's chief federal prosecutor, Andy Luger, are at the summit. President Obama will address the group on Thursday.

Luger is using the White House summit to unveil what he calls a Community Resiliency Program -- a Justice Department pilot program to combat the recruiting of young men and women for terror by getting at root causes, like unemployment and a lack of opportunity. Other programs are being started in Los Angeles and Boston, but Minnesota is the program everyone will be watching.

Beginning in 2007, as many as 40 people have left Minnesota, travelling to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, and more recently to Syria, to fight for ISIS.

"There is a very sophisticated and persuasive message coming from overseas, that you have a better life, a more meaningful life, fighting overseas for terrorists," Luger said.

Luger wants to combat that message in several ways.

-Youth and after school programs

-Job fairs and job training programs

-Eliminate ethnic profiling at the airport.

-See more Somalis in law enforcement

-Increase engagement between religious leaders and youth.

"What I've heard repeatedly from relatives of young men who have traveled to Syria, is more connection between youth and religious leaders, more connection to the imams," Luger said.

It is expected that the Minneapolis-St. Paul delegation to the White House summit will include members of 15 law enforcement and Somali community leaders.