WASHINGTON -- The Twin Cities were one of three muncipalities in the country that will participate in a pilot program to boost outreach in the Islamic community in effort to combat recruitment of naturalized Americans by the terrorist group ISIL, Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.
The pilot project will "bring together important Minnesota law enforcement, religious, and community leaders to expand outreach to Minnesotans," according to Sen. Al Franken's office, which has urged the Obama administration to deliver additional resources to Minnesota.
Two men with Minnesota ties were killed fighting for ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in the Middle East.
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minneapolis, has also encouraged administration officials to work with the Somali community because they can be allies in identifying vulnerable young people who can become radicalized, he said.
US Attorney for Minnesota Andy Luger, issued a statement late Wednesday:
"The Somali community in Minneapolis and St. Paul will benefit greatly from the additional resources we expect to receive as part of the pilot program," he said. "Our Somali friends deserve to prosper in Minnesota in peace and security, and this program seeks to make that happen, and create a blueprint for the country for how to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable youth."
WASHINGTON -- It's not often that Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan join together to support the same amendment.
On Thursday, an odd blend of bedfellows voted against a $5 billion measure to arm Syrian rebels in the fight to combat the terror group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which passed 273 to 156.
Bachmann, Nolan and Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum voted against the proposal. Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Keith Ellison joined Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen in support.
Bachmann tweeted after the vote: "Many of the so-called "moderate" rebels have already joined the cause of Islamic jihad. Concerned U.S. weapons could fall into enemy hands."
"Remember, last year at this time we were ready to attack (Syrian President) al-Assad and Syria. Now we appear in a tacit alliance with Assad and his allies to defeat ISIL," he said. "Today we appear ready to send $5 billion to the FSA ... The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result."
Paulsen said, in a statement, he supported the measure with reservations.
"I remain concerned about the administration's ability to effectively and appropriately vet Syrian opposition forces to ensure we are training groups aligned with our interest in defeating ISIL," he said, noting he found it "necessary to provide the president with this limited and short-term authority."
McCollum, in a statement, called the debate "rushed."
"The CIA is already training and arming Syrian fighters in Jordan, without congressional approval. How well has that worked? We are not discussing that as a body," she said.
The Senate takes this up Thursday. Sen. Al Franken in an interview on Wednesday said he had concerns about arming Syria and was still undecided.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar is heading to Iowa to headline Iowa's Jefferson Jackson dinner -- an annual fundraising gathering for Democrats.
Klobuchar is no stranger to the state crucial to presidential hopefuls. She frequently darts down there for fundraisers and was there last month campaigning for Rep. Bruce Braley, a U.S. Senate candidate.
Klobuchar aide Justin Buoen said in a statement, “Minnesota and Iowa have a lot in common--from our strong farm economies to our shared belief in education for all. With her work on the farm bill and middle class issues, Sen. Klobuchar is a great choice for the Iowa Democratic dinner.“
Iowa Democratic party chair Scott Brennan said in a release, according to the Des Moines Register: "We invited Sen. Klobuchar because she's a great speaker and a strong advocate for our candidates and we're pleased she's joining us to support our Iowa Democrats at this year's Jefferson Jackson Dinner."
WASHINGTON -- Obama administration officials are engaged in reaching out to Muslim communities across the United States -- including Minnesota -- to try and get them to speak up if they see radicalization taking place.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Phil Gordon, White House coordinator for the Middle East, said officials "were very attuned" to ISIL's propoganda machine -- on social and print media -- that has tempted some young American muslims to join the movement in the Middle East.
Gordon said more European youth have been recruited to fight with ISIL than Americans.
"We have obviously been reaching out to American Muslim communities who are overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts to denouce ISIL and show it for what it is and encourage them to speak up so that we minimize this risk that some Muslims are susceptible to this propoganda," he said.
Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis with its large Somali community, has encouraged the administration to work with residents there.
"I am one who believes that you need to counter this in a calm, methodical way," Ellison said earlier this week in an interview.
WASHINGTON -- GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden said Tuesday he favored a proposal introduced this week in the House that revokes passport and re-entry privileges for American citizens who fight overseas for Islamic militants.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Michele Bachmann Monday.
Bachmann's bill, dubbed the Terrorist Denaturalization and Passport Revocation Act, amends existing laws and rescinds re-entry privileges for people who join terrorist armies overseas. A companion measure was introduced by Texas Republican Sen. Cruz that goes a step further and allows the U.S. government to strip citizenship of any person joining military forces with countries at war with the United States.
McFadden's spokesman said he thinks Cruz's bill could be unconstitutional based on previous Supreme Court rulings on citizenship revocation.
McFadden said in a statement Tuesday: "It is necessary that we have policies and procedures in place to prevent this from occurring and to ensure that trained terrorists do not come back to the United States with the ability to launch terror attacks here at home."
McFadden is hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Al Franken in November. Expecting a Franken response to the legislation in the next couple hours.