FBI chief absent from DC terror summit

FBI Director James Comey.(Reuters / Brian Snyder)

FBI Director James Comey.(Reuters / Brian Snyder)

Vague language and the absence of America’s top law enforcement official at the White House anti-extremist summit have raised questions about President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting terrorism even among the administration’s supporters.

At the much-promoted summit on “countering violent
” (CVE), Obama called for addressing “root
” he argued were exploited by extremists, from poverty
to hopelessness, humiliation, and resentment. He also rejected
all talk of a “clash of civilizations,” asserting that
America is “not at war with Islam. We are at war with people
who have perverted Islam

READ MORE: ‘An ugly lie’: Obama rejects claim West is at war with

To that end, the “CVE” summit explored a “bottom-up approach” of
countering extremism, based on the notion of working with local
officials and communities. This was reflected in prioritizing
relations with “community leaders, local law enforcement,
private sector innovators, and others
,” an unnamed Obama
administration official told the New York Times.

Though Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security
Secretary Jeh Johnson attended the summit, notably absent was FBI
director James B. Comey, the most senior US official in charge of
preventing terrorist attacks. According to the New York Times’
source, the omission was deliberate “because the
administration did not want the event too focused on law
enforcement issues
.” The FBI declined to comment.

READ MORE: US attacks on Muslims abroad is not a war on Islam –

This did not stop other countries from sending in their top
law-enforcement officials to the conference, including Aleksandr
Bortnikov, director of the Russian Federal Security Service
(FSB). The CVE summit was reportedly developed from a pilot
program by the US Department of Justice, involving
comprehensive local strategies” to combat extremism
while improving trust between law enforcement and Muslim
communities in the United States.

According to the New York Times, though, “many of the
strategies listed by the FBI
” in a memo published on the web
several months ago “appear similar to ones mentioned at the
,” prompting the paper to wonder “who in the
government is in charge of the anti-extremist effort

The FBI chief’s absence has bolstered criticism of the meeting as
ineffectual and irrelevant,” and missing “immediate
and tangible
” solutions to stop terrorists. Last week,
however, Obama called for renewed congressional authorization for
the use of military force against the Islamic State (IS, also
known as ISIS and ISIL), the jihadist group that has come to
control large areas of Iraq and Syria.

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