The mass shooting in San Bernardino is lending new urgency to Minnesota's push to thwart radical recruitment, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The attack, considered the first homegrown terror act inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has stoked fresh anxiety in Twin Cities Muslim and immigrant communities, both about the militant group's propaganda targeting local youths and about stigmatization leaders believe is on the rise. To officials like Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, the California attack highlights the need to rethink strategies largely focused on the exodus of would-be jihadis rather than on domestic threats.
Minnesota is a good case study, says counterterrorism expert William Braniff: The state, which federal officials believe has produced more would-be foreign fighters than other states, also boasts a Muslim community that's exceptionally engaged with efforts to counter extremism. “Minnesota is not just some kind of black sheep,” said Braniff, of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. “It's also a role model.” In the past year, eight young men from the Twin Cities were charged after allegedly attempting to travel to Syria. Three have pleaded guilty. A trial is scheduled for May. The federal government also chose Minneapolis as one of three cities to host pilot programs aimed at countering radical recruitment through youth engagement programs. After months of heated debate, the project, which has drawn $900,000 in federal, state and private funding, is slated to get off the ground early next year. Some supporters say the San Bernardino attack is adding a sense of urgency.