ON-Lion Letter

The federal government has launched an initiative to counter violent extremism among potential homegrown terrorists.  Part of the effort enlists college students to develop an online campaign and social-media strategy against Islamic State propaganda.

With cadets in one of his classes at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Col. Bryan C. Price is leading one of 45 college teams participating in the effort.  He directs West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, which is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee. 

The team's efforts were recently covered by the PBS's NewsHour.

"If you take a look at the dollars that the United States government is putting into its counter-narrative campaign and then you compare it to the emphasis that organizations like the Islamic state is placing on it I think we are operating at a deficit," Price told PBS's Christopher Booker.

"We are not thinking that we are going to create a social media campaign that is going to stop card carrying members of the Islamic State and have them put down their arms," Price said.  "What we're trying to do is to identify at risk youth and create a community online to which they can go get answers, information about the Islamic State.  About jihad.  About Islam.  And those folks that haven't quite made up their mind yet."

The West Point team's project is one of three finalists in a "peer-to-peer" competition sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Facebook, and EdVenture Partners.  It presented its ideas in early February at The White House and the State Department.

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