(CNSNews.com) – The director of the Office of Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department outlined some of the department’s strategic planning Wednesday to counter “violent extremism.”
Irfan Saeed praised Denmark’s strategy of rehabilitating and reintegrating foreign extremist fighters into society, asking, “What happens when they come back? You have to be able to rehabilitate them and then re-integrate them back into society.”
Speaking at a National Academy of Sciences’ panel on “Ideologically Motivated Violence,” Saeed described rehabilitation and integration as a strategy area of focus for the State Department.
“We’ve seen a large number of individuals travel overseas to foreign conflict zones, places like Iraq and Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan,” Saeed said. “So what happens when they come back? You have to be able to rehabilitate them and then re-integrate them back into society.”
He cited the program in Aurhus, Denmark, “where they’ve really struggled with this issue, but they’ve come up with a comprehensive way to try to rehabilitate these individuals once they come back and then reintegrate them into society.”
Saeed discussed other strategies to counter violent extremism during the panel including intervention which he described as “something as simple as offers or alternatives to prosecution.”
“It’s one thing to throw everybody in jail and figure it out later,” he said, but officials “understand that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”
He also emphasized the importance of “strategic messaging,” arguing that “we figure if we can put some good messages on the internet, we can stop radicalization violence.”
He cited the work of the State Department’s new Global Engagement Center, which is charged with “coordinating U.S. counterterrorism messaging to foreign audiences” and was established by Executive Order in March.