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US Department of Justice launches new intel-gathering program to ‘counter extremism’

The US Department of Justice said it is launching a national pilot program in a number of cities to try and detect American extremists interested in joining terrorist organizations and fighting in countries like Syria and Iraq.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message Monday that the program is designed to bring together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders, and US attorneys to “improve local engagement … counter violent extremism … and – ultimately – to build a broad network of community partnerships to keep our nation safe.”

The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

According to Holder, the department is teaming up with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center for the purpose.

Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism,” Holder said in the video posted on the Justice Department’s website. “And with the emergence of groups like ISIL [ISIS/The Islamic State], and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately.”

Which cities will participate in the program was not shared by the Justice Department, nor were details of how widespread the problem of recruitment is.

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