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Hearing on extremism in the military prompts partisan broadsides

Mark Satter, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Russia and other foreign adversaries may be fueling the problem.

“We are seeing online activity by the Russians to push some veterans toward radicalization,” said Seth Jones, who directs the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

“My discussions with intelligence officials in the current and previous administrations do indicate concern that Russian intelligence is involved in disinformation campaigns on American social media platforms, including the spread of violent ideologies” that are picked up by militia groups, Jones said.

Experts agreed that the best way to keep veterans from joining extremist organizations once they leave the military is to “inoculate” all servicemembers against digital recruitment efforts.

“Most extremist recruitment and radicalization happens online now,” said Miller-Idriss, “and troops should receive blanket training on that before returning to civilian life.”


Others echoed that sentiment.

“It’s the online space that has transformed the recruitment abilities of these groups and made the problem much worse,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism.

Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told lawmakers that the “plots of tomorrow are being hatched online today.”

The next hearing will focus on the recruitment tactics of militia groups, and the third will address strategies to steer veterans away from joining organizations that may become violent.

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