The fight against terrorist recruitment is getting a big — and much-needed — injection of cash. But the politics behind the money could undermine an otherwise exciting international effort.
In late September, Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced the creation of a $200 million “Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience.” The fund will provide grants to organizations working to counter violent extremism (CVE). It was unveiled at a meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in New York, a relatively new body consisting of 29 countries and the European Union that deliberates on counterterrorism policy and programs. The United States is set to initially contribute $2-3 million to the fund in the hopes of encouraging other nations and private companies to reach the $200 million mark over the next ten years.
The fund is a promising development in the realm of CVE, which is notoriously ill-defined and under-resourced. NGOs in poor countries often have a good sense of how to curb terrorist recruitment in their own backyards, but they do not know where to find money — and their governments often interfere with their programs for political reasons. Wealthy countries, meanwhile, are not good at identifying effective local NGOs in donor recipient nations. So they spend a lot of time in their own cubical labs cooking up new ways to thwart terrorist recruitment in faraway lands, often without much verifiable success. Compounding the problem is that most wealthy countries are bureaucratically structured to award large grants for multiyear development projects, whereas most good CVE programs are much smaller in scope and ambition.