Justice asks local leaders to help identify US ISIS recruits

The federal government is asking local community leaders to help identify U.S. citizens who might be considering joining foreign terror groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution Obama appears in new ad from Dem redistricting group MORE said Monday.

The Justice Department is partnering with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center to assist religious and public safety officials to identify individuals who might be considering joining radical organizations overseas, Holder said in a video posted to his department’s website.

“We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad,” Holder said. “And we have engaged in extensive outreach to communities here in the U.S. — so we can work with them to identify threats before they emerge, to disrupt homegrown terrorists, and to apprehend would-be violent extremists.”

The White House will host a “Countering Violent Extremism” summit in October, and Justice Department officials have already hosted some 1,700 meetings with local communities since 2012, Holder said.

“We must be both innovative and aggressive in countering violent extremism and combating those who would sow intolerance, division, and hate — not just within our borders, but with our international partners on a global scale,’ ” he added.

The U.S. and other Western countries have repeatedly expressed concern over the flow of their passport-holders into Syria to take up arms alongside ISIS. The White House has repeatedly cautioned that those individuals could return home and carry out a terrorist attack.

“These individuals are dangerous because they are now battle-hardened. They’ve received training and equipment, and demonstrated a willingness to die for their cause,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday. “These individuals also have a passport in their back pocket, and it means that they could, with very — in an almost unfettered way, travel back to the West and potentially carry out acts of violence.”

Earnest said the U.S. had been “closely coordinating” with international partners “to try to mitigate this threat.”

“We’ve been doing this through intelligence channels, through law enforcement channels, through diplomatic channels and even through national security channels to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to try to protect the American people and Western interests from this threat,” he continued.

The administration has so far refused to say how many Americans they believe might have traveled to Syria, although estimates range between a dozen and a hundred. At least two Minnesota men fighting for ISIS in Iraq have been killed in U.S. airstrikes against the group.