MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - U.S. Attorney Andy Luger has announce details that will put some “meat on the bones” of a pilot program intended to combat the recruiting of young Minnesota men to fight for ISIS. The program includes $390,000 in private corporate foundation money, $216,000 in federal seed money, and $250,000 authorized by the Minnesota Legislature.
“This is the right thing to do,” Luger said to a small briefing of reporters. “Community members asked us to do this, and demanded we do it. This is the plan that came from discussions within the community.”
The center piece is an expanded mentoring effort of young people in the Somali Community on the part of the Big Brothers & Big Sisters. Financing for the program is coming from the Carlson Family Foundation.
Cargill and the owners of Mall of America have also contributed money to a youth leadership program that is still in development. Luger said he will also announce a so-called “Opportunity Hub” in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood that will be a one-stop shop where young people can seek jobs, internships, and training programs.
Luger said his office has spent the last year in conversations developing the plan at the request of the White House, which calls in the Countering Violent Extremism program. Luger said locally it will be known as the Community Resiliency Program.
Asked about critics of the plan who fear it will be used by law enforcement to gather intelligence on the Somali community, Luger said he sign a pledge that it would not be used for intelligence gathering or law enforcement.
“That was never the intent,” Luger said.
Special Agent Richard Thornton, who leads the Minnesota FBI office, recently told the Associated Press that young people are still be recruited in Minnesota to fight for ISIS. Asked if he agrees with that assessment, Luger said, “Absolutely, 100 percent."