From Congressman Keith Ellison’s testimony before Peter King’s HUAC committee this morning:
The best defense against extremist ideologies is social inclusion and civic engagement. FBI Agent Ralph Boelter, head of the Minneapolis FBI, illustrates my point. He led a large scale probe into counterterrorism involving local Somali-Americans heading overseas to fight with a terrorist organization. He is now coming to D.C. to become the Agency’s deputy assistant director in charge of counterterrorism.
Boelter’s strategy: To fight extremism, the Agency needs to establish sincere relationships with the community. “We had to be able to show people they could trust me, trust us,” Boelter said of the local community.
FBI Agent Boelter “showed a side to the FBI that people don’t see,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. “They needed that. They needed a little more to make their case. And it paid off because of the connections he made. People came forward. He became somebody that they were willing to go to.”
This is an especially difficult task with immigrant groups from countries where talking to the police is a seriously bad idea.