A PENTAGON WORKING GROUP established in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot to root out domestic extremists has circulated a list of prospective partners that includes representatives of a conservative Christian group and an anti-Muslim extremism group, according to an internal Defense Department document obtained exclusively by The Intercept.
In several cases, these potential partners were themselves involved in the misidentification of Muslims as terrorists. On April 9, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the establishment of the Countering Extremism Working Group, which would “receive information from both internal and external Subject Matter Experts,” who would serve as consultants.
The document shows that those experts could include representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-hate groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as the conservative First Liberty Institute and the anti-Muslim Middle East Media Research Institute.
The document, which was provided to The Intercept by a Pentagon source on condition of anonymity to avoid professional reprisal, is not dated, but the source said that it was disseminated late last month.
The document states, “The Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG) would like to partner with experts on counter extremism and counter terrorism to better understand the scope of the problem and inform the 90-day report for the Secretary of Defense. These experts may come from advocacy groups, academia, and other areas that contribute the to the fight against terrorism.”
The Middle East Media Research Institute has been described as “the Islamophobia network’s go-to place for selective translations of Islamist rhetoric abroad,” according to a report by the Center for American Progress. (One of the report’s authors, Lee Fang, is now a reporter at The Intercept.)