Kerry Sleeper
Assistant Director, Office of Partner Engagement
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Statement Before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security
Washington, D.C.
July 27, 2017

Combating Homegrown Terrorism

Statement for the Record

Good afternoon Chairman DeSantis, Ranking Member Lynch, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the threat of homegrown violent extremism.

The FBI utilizes a comprehensive violence reduction strategy, which focuses on all pathways to violence but is not limited to the sole focus of homegrown violent extremism. Our violence reduction strategy is primarily composed of prevention and intervention lines of effort.

In the area of prevention, the FBI has a long history of engagement in outreach and education initiatives, and continues this effort as we identify and adapt to current trends.

In collaboration with our state and local partners, the FBI has historically been very successful in outreach programs designed to reach certain communities who are at greater risk for radicalization. For example, FBI Minneapolis served as a pilot program for the Bureau immediately after September 11, 2001, when their executive management regularly hosted focus group meetings with specific audiences, such as the Somali elders, in order to address their concerns and needs.

Some of our popular outreach programs that have had a positive impact on the community are the Campus Liaison Initiative, the Private Sector Liaison, the Corrections Initiative, the FBI Citizens Academy, and the Junior G-Man Program. These efforts are managed by our division outreach coordinators, in conjunction with the JTTF and local partners. Additionally, the division outreach coordinators assess the needs of their individual community groups and develop specific programming tailored to integrate community and law enforcement goals to mitigate local risk factors for violence.

The FBI also focuses on education for different catalysts for radicalization designed to help the public increase awareness of radicalization. These products are widely disseminated to the law enforcement and community partners for further engagement with the public, and demand continues to increase for additional products. The FBI has a website, Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism, specifically designed for the public and for use by educators and community leaders and organizations for school-age children. Visits to the site average nearly 7,400 a month. Also in reaching out to communities, the FBI has produced other media-based products, including Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools, Recognizing Pathways to Violent Extremism, Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education, and Workplace Violence: Issues and Response. We have also produced and distributed documentaries A Revolutionary Act, Redemption, and Active Shooter: Managing the Mass Casualty Threat.

In our area of intervention, the FBI is closely coordinating with our state and local partners to best meet the needs of communities. The FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement identified a best practice used by police departments—the crisis intervention teams (CITs) and their partner multi-discipline teams (MDTs), composed of community mental health and social welfare providers. The FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement is currently initiating closer coordination with police department crisis intervention teams in order to develop a coordinated strategy to identify potential individuals appropriate for intervention. The FBI also conducted a pilot program to assess the viability of “off-ramping”. The idea behind off-ramping subjects is to take them off the path to violence before they commit a crime. This process must be completed with the utmost attention to detail, sensitivity to law enforcement and community partners, and a forward-leaning approach. The FBI’s pilot program indicated the best results would be achieved by close collaboration with our state and local law enforcement and government partners. The FBI continues to work with these partners to form a cohesive and beneficial plan to implement off-ramping efforts and better serve our communities.

In conclusion, I am pleased to be here today to talk to you about the FBI’s work with our state and local partners in combating homegrown extremism. Thank you for this opportunity to testify, and I look forward to your questions.