Preventing Radicalization

By Megan Gates

MPAC has also created a toolkit for community members to teach them warning signs of online radicalization, something Tarin says is especially important post-Boston. Many of these warning signs are similar to those of depression in young adults where they become isolated. The toolkit tells parents to keep track of what their kids are doing online. “We tell parents you have to watch out for financial fraud, you have to watch out for online predators, you have to watch out for all of these different issues, so this is another issue that you should also watch out for,” Tarin says.

The toolkit also encourages strong partnerships between law enforcement agencies and local mosques. “There should be a level of trust built between law enforcement and communities so that when communities see something, they can right away go to the law enforcement agencies,” Tarin explains.

However, the best way to prevent violent extremism is through civic engagement—like the kind LA law enforcement is engaging youth in, Tarin says. “A big component of our work is to try to make sure that young people are involved in the civic and political process,” he adds. “That if they have a grievance, like other Americans who have a grievance on any issue...that they have avenues to go to and be active and work for a political campaign, work for a nonprofit organization, do an internship, or come to Washington and do some good works.”

The hope is that these types of programs might prevent a future Tamerlan Tsarnaev. But community outreach and community engagement can only do so much. As U.S. Special Envoy Hussein noted, “Communities can’t be in everyone’s basement.” It will continue to be a challenge to know how to handle someone who appears to be on a path to radicalization, to know if there is still a chance for social intervention, or if it is time for law enforcement intervention.



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