Department of Homeland Security Goes Further Down the Countering Violent Extremism Rabbit Hole


Source:, By Chris Wright,  August 13, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security is poised to spend $35 million on a new Center of Excellence in Terrorism Prevention and Counterterrorism Research.  Universities will apply for grants to develop “multidisciplinary, customer-driven solutions while training the next generation of homeland security experts,” according to the press release announcing the Center.  “Once awarded, this COE will leverage emerging technologies and analytic techniques to provide innovative solutions for preventing and countering terrorism,” the press release went on to say.  The Center “will support academic-led innovation that supports DHS in staying a step ahead of emerging terrorist tactics.”

What does all this mean, exactly?

This publication asked DHS whether the new Center will focus on radical Islam and, if so, through what specific projects.  A DHS press officer indicated he would put the question to a staff member working on the Center, but initially just provided another grant document instead.
This response being totally inadequate and not what was promised, the Sharia TipSheet contacted the press officer again:

  • The document you reference only mentions Islamist terrorism once and does not mention white supremacism or eco-terrorism at all. 
  • How can anything useful be developed concerning “integrat(ing) technologies and concepts into DHS operations to avoid, prevent, or stop a threatened or actual act of terrorism” if no specific group is being examined? 
  • Similarly, how can anything useful be developed concerning “break(ing) the cycle of recruitment, radicalization, and violence” if no specific group is being examined?  Wouldn’t recruitment, for example, differ from group to group? 
  • Perhaps it is envisioned that specific groups will be the subject of the grants even though they’re not mentioned in the grant announcement.  If that is the case, please advise as to what percentage of the Center’s activity is expected to be about:
  • Abortion extremism
  • Islamist extremism
  • animal rights extremism
  • environmental extremism
  • sovereign citizen extremism
  • anarchist extremism
  • Puerto Rican extremism
  • militia extremism
  • white supremacist extremism
  • black separatist extremism
  • bombing matters
  • other (please identify)
  •  Finally, the document is clearly written from a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) point of view.  Early in the Trump administration, it was reported that DHS was moving away from CVE in several ways.  What happened to the initiatives listed below and why doesn’t the document you referenced reflect them? 

Changes Initially Made at DHS Regarding CVE

a)  rebranding Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) as “terrorism prevention”
b)  rebranding CVE as “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism”
c)  undertaking an end-to-end review of all CVE programs 
d)  developing a new counterterrorism strategy
e)  shifting counterterrorism grants from community engagement to law enforcement
f)   cutting staff working on CVE
g)  downgrading authority of remaining CVE staff
h)  reformulating counterterrorism programs to be risk-based
i)  reformulating counterterrorism programs to be intelligence-driven
j)  reformulating counterterrorism programs to be proven effective
k)  reformulating counterterrorism programs to be focused on front-line actors
l)  reorganizing an Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships to “lead the charge”

There was no response at all concerning the fate of DHS’ moves away from CVE early in the Trump administration.  With regard to the Center of Excellence and its areas of focus, the press officer responded:

  • I will try to get some more clarity on this issue for you, but in general, we did not itemize specific types of groups so as not to limit the thinking of the potential research. We’re not telling them who to study nor how to study it, but to propose what they would do with those mentioned goals in mind. We are looking to establish a new Center to conduct this research, and want to see what the various universities submit in their proposals.

The press officer later provided an additional response from a program manager:

  • For the new Center of Excellence for Terrorism Prevention and Counterterrorism Research, DHS S&T [Science and Technology Directorate] seeks to competitively select the best lead and partner organizations that submit packages outlining the most comprehensive approaches to advance the Department’s ability to mitigate the terrorism threat and to develop, in our workforce, the capacities and capabilities to effectively protect the Homeland.  The process solicits input from many subject matter experts outside and inside DHS to comment on the benefits and negative aspects of each of the packages we receive to provide the greatest benefit for the resources invested.  
  • While not specified in the RFP, we would certainly expect the Center to conduct research projects in the areas you mentioned.   This is very early in the process and no formal decisions have yet been made on specific research projects at this stage.

So, there you have it.  The new Center will spend $35 million on fishing for new ‘comprehensive approaches’ to counter and prevent terrorism.  Pardon my cynicism, but it is not at all clear the taxpayers will receive anything of value for their money given the homogenized, generic, CVE-flavored gobbledygook in the press release and grant document.  This reminds me of an early experience I had as an intern with muckraker Jack Anderson.  I learned that the Energy Department had conducted a study of a new technique to make gasoline burn more efficiently and cleaner at a cost of a penny a gallon.  When I called up the Energy Department to find out what happened to the study, I was told that it was sitting on a shelf with all the other studies. 
Meanwhile, the Koran still says 164 times in various ways ‘slay the infidel’.   The words are still on the paper and they’re not going away.  Your government wants you to believe those words had nothing to with the attacks on 9/11, Mumbai, or any of the hundreds of Islamist attacks since – that all those attacks were a perversion of Islam when in fact the Koran is very clear about what is to done with non-Muslims.  The Sharia TipSheet has taken on the mission of forcing the issue and getting the federal government to come to grips with the fact that unvarnished Islamic doctrine in and of itself is a threat to the homeland.
That is what my FOIA case against the FBI is about, what my queries above to DHS are about, and what my letters to my contact in the White House are about.  Job One for the federal government is to keep people safe and that can’t happen unless the government admits Islamic doctrine per se is a national security problem.  There’s a lot of mindless romanticism about ‘inclusiveness’ these days, but the obvious question is why would we want to include people who want to kill us?
I will be monitoring the output of the Center of Excellence and reporting on it in future articles.  Will it be overloaded with the fad du jour (e.g., white supremacy)?  Will it advance the state of the art for dealing with radical Islam?  Will it say anything about Islamic doctrine at all?  Or will it be abstracted mush taking DHS further down the CVE rabbit hole?  Only time will tell.