Teamwork Emphasized in FBI’s ILEA Training to Counter Violent Extremism
The FBI and the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Roswell, New Mexico, hosted law enforcement delegations from six African nations in April in a training aimed at developing strategies to counter violent extremism.
Narrator: Two weeks ago, these law enforcement officers from six African nations didn't know one another. Now, on a Sunday morning in Roswell, New Mexico, they are friends on the soccer field and partners in the global fight against terrorism. The players—part of visiting delegations of nearly 60 police, prosecutors, and judges—were in the U.S. for training in April at the International Law Enforcement Academy. The ILEA, as it is called, provides a setting for U.S. agencies to deliver specialized training to invited law enforcement leaders from around the world. One of the goals in this session was to develop effective strategies for countering violent extremism—and to build and strengthen partnerships with neighboring countries.
Rick Hernandez, International Operations Division: It makes it safer for us. We are literally trying to push out America’s borders, trying to keep bad guys from coming to the United States. And by making our partners stronger, it helps defend America.
Narrator: These six countries—Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, Botswana, and Mozambique—are no strangers to terrorism. And each has become adept, in its own way, to responding to these acts. The recent training on countering violent extremism, provided by FBI instructors, was aimed at preventing events before they occur—what agents and military operators describe as “left of the boom.”
Hernandez: When we talk about right of the boom, we talk about how we react to these attacks. In countering violent extremism, what we are really trying to do is we are trying to look left of the boom—what happens just prior to the event: the preparation, the reconnaissance, the gathering materials, building the bomb, preparing the attack. Then we look further left—what were the mobilization factors that made him decide, “I’m going to carry out this attack. I’m going to use violence to express my social, political, or religious beliefs.”
Narrator: Barbara Masinde, a state prosecutor in Uganda, said concepts like better early engagement in communities and schools could help curtail potential problems.
Masinde: It’s not merely for law enforcement; it’s not for government alone. So, if everyone appreciates that they have a role to play, then we shall better counter violent extremism.
Narrator: Lessons in class showed the arcs many follow to become extremists and offered possible ways to divert them from that path.
Hernandez: The biggest danger when someone is radicalized is trying to de-radicalize through confrontation.
Narrator: For some it was an entirely new way of viewing a persistent problem.
Hernandez: The hope is that through the dialogue and through the exchange of ideas and perspectives, the delegates from these different countries will leave with a new perspective on countering violent extremism. A proactive perspective, a left-of-the-boom perspective. Cutting off the supply line of the violent extremism—preventing the radicalization, preventing the recruitment, preventing the infection of young people, of displaced peoples, of people in refugee camps from becoming the next generation of terrorists.
Narrator: Frank Emeka, a Nigerian police officer, said the training offered a fresh perspective.
Emeka: I have more tools now than I had before in my tool kits. Before now, perhaps our emphasis back home was more on suppression and containment. One of the things that this training has done for me is to open my eyes to the other side of the boom, which means we must begin to look at—look beyond the traditional law enforcement tools.
Juma Ali Mashua, Kenya Police Service: Whatever small idea that I would take back home, I think will develop from there. The small change in the approach, in the way how to deal with the terrorism and radicalization, I think it will have an impact at the end of the day.
Narrator: The ILEA in Roswell is one of five around the world. Funded through the U.S. Department of State, a key mission of the 23-year-old program is to provide high-quality training, strategies, and tactics for foreign law enforcement personnel. That ultimately leads to better international cooperation between all the countries involved.
Gilbert Masengeli, Kenya Police Service: We cannot deal with terrorism alone. We need to partner. We need to communicate. We need to understand this problem of terrorism. And we also have to know the reason why. Why is it happening? How can we put in place the ways and the means of how to counter it? We have to engage other partners to ensure that we do it as a region, as a global, because it is all over.
Narrator: For many, the most profound takeaway from the weeks of training is the network of new partners they may come to rely on when they get back home. Whether it’s left or right of the boom, they have colleagues in neighboring countries—and in the U.S.—they can call for investigative support and resources.
Hernandez: We are building a network. It’s human-based. There’s no way around it. No technology will to replace it. And That is the ultimate ILEA effect. The human network that’s built. A group of people who are dedicated to fighting evil—it’s a good versus evil—preventing violence, and saving lives. It’s an extraordinary experience.
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