Luger: Program must be community-run
A key plank of Minnesota’s plan is bolstering programs that foster community engagement among Muslims, especially young people, who might otherwise be attracted by terror recruitment campaigns from overseas. That means things like expanding after-school mentorship through community groups like “Ka Joog,” or increasing funding for scholarships for students, or creating new religious programming in local mosques and bringing in positive role models within the Somali-American community to speak to kids.
The pilot program is designed to facilitate this by providing funding, but stay out of the hands-on, day-to-day work that goes into the effort itself, Luger said. Local institutions, from groups like Ka Joog and the Cedar-Riverside Youth Council, to mosques and parent groups, would be responsible for leading the effort and intervening when they find individuals susceptible to terror recruitment, not law enforcement or the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Funding for the program would come from federal grant programs — Obama has requested $15 million in funding for anti-recruitment efforts from Congress — and it would filter through Luger’s office to the community institutions executing the plan.
Luger said the approach is based on what Minnesota’s Muslims themselves have requested of him. The community-run aspect is central to the whole effort — community and religious leaders design and run the programming while Luger provides both logistic and financial support for those who take on the effort (beyond federal sources, Luger is looking to partner with Minnesota-based companies and organizations to find further funding).
“Our job is really to bring the resources to the community, whether it’s people who have worked on similar programs or have tried to develop similar programs elsewhere — a best practices approach,” he said, “and also to bring grant funding from Washington, where money is available to support community-led efforts, and one of my jobs is to be a catalyst to help bring that money to Minnesota.”