Law enforcement, religious and community groups meet on terrorism

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In Chicago Tuesday there was a meeting to try to identify and contain potential terror threats in the Chicago area which included law enforcement agencies along with community and religious organizations.

The faces of people who have been radicalized in the United States were presented during the meeting, which brought together leaders in Chicago's religious, immigrant and civic communities along with law enforcement at all levels. The purpose was to discuss ways to identify people who may be on a path towards ideologically-inspired violence.

"This is not about predicting who is a bad guy, who is good bad guy. It's about trying to find out who is at a higher risk and off-ramping them early on so we can get them the kind of therapeutic assistance that they need," said Junaid Afeef, Targeted Violence Prevention Program.

High-risk factor include a criminal history, substance abuse, family problems and homelessness. Religion ad nationality are of secondary importance. In fact, a recent study of all those who have been convicted in ISIS-inspired acts in America shows the vast majority are U.S. citizens and about 40 percent are recent Muslim converts.

"Ideologically-motivated violence manifests itself in many different ways. Yes, it could be theological, but it could be political, racial, social, personal," said Kareem Shora, Department of Homeland Security.

The rise in propaganda-inspired lone wolf terrorist attacks at home and abroad has also intensified the need for trust between law enforcement and the community. It's a challenge, especially in the Muslim community where many feel constantly under attack.

"Groups like ISIS, let's state it. They're gangs. They're glorified gangs. They give a sense of belonging, and if our communities - both the religious and secular communities - cannot make people feel welcome they're going to look elsewhere to get that sense of belonging," said Sufyan Sohel, Council on American Islamic Relations.

Tuesday's meeting was hosted by the Department of Homeland Security and is part of a regular community engagement program designed to create those much-needed bridges.
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