Politics & Government

White House summit to address violent extremism

The White House will convene a three day summit to discuss ways to counter violent extremism, focusing on domestic and international efforts to prevent extremists from radicalizing Westerners and others.

The conference, which the White House announced a month ago, falls just days after 21 Egyptians were slain by Islamic State terrorists.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the summit both at the White House and at the State Department.

Vice President Joe Biden will open the summit Tuesday, along with representatives from Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, which, working with the Justice and Homeland Security departments have set up pilot programs in an effort to prevent radicalization.

The summit comes as Obama has formally asked Congress for authorization to fight Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, Syria and beyond. But administration officials said the Islamic State, while a near term threat, won't be the sole focus.

"We remain particularly concerned about the possibility of groups like (the Islamic State) recruiting Americans to fight, but at the same time, the message at the WHite House and the agenda itself is not entirely focused on ISIL," an official said, adding that "we also recognize that in the United States there have been violent extremists that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes."

Obama will address a group at the WHite House on Wednesday and will deliver remarks at the State Department on Thursday, where some 60 leaders from across the globe are expected to participate.

The federal pilot programs have come under fire, with Minnesota Muslim and Somali leaders planning a press conference Tuesday to address what they said are "serious civil liberties issues" with the programs.

"Allowing the federal criminal prosecutor and law enforcement agencies to engage in social services and organize mentorship and after-school programs only in the Muslim community is unprecedented," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein. "It blurs the line between community outreach and intelligence gathering."

The White House announced the summit in January, saying such efforts were made "even more imperative" after terrorist attacks in Ottawa, Sydney and Paris.