Md. woman working with Muslim communities to help counter homegrown ISIS radicalization

- Many people believe the United States military needs help fighting ISIS. One Muslim woman in the D.C. area is spearheading a movement seeking help with this from the Muslim community.

Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi is the president of the World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE) and she is basically teaching Muslim families and mosque leaders how to spot an extremist in the making. It is a tough job when many have no clue what an ISIS video even looks like.

The threat of Islamic extremists on U.S. soil isn't just a threat anymore -- it’s real.

The mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the Texas shooting at a Prophet Mohammed cartoon event in May as well as the mass killings that occurred in Paris last month were all carried out or inspired by the Islamic State.

“We're saddened, we’re upset, we're concerned,” said Dr. Mirahmadi. “At the end of the day, [we’re] horrified that this is being done in the name of our religion.”

This Maryland woman is pushing her community to get out of its comfort zone and admits something that may surprise you.

“The average imam has never seen an ISIS video,” she said. “Their job is to preach the mainstream version of the religion to their congregation. They are not familiar with the radicalization narratives.”

But the ISIS videos are easy for anyone to find online as they try to inspire a new generation of fighters here in the U.S. who are vulnerable.

Mirahmadi has already intervened with families who have started to see the warning signs of radicalization.

“That could be post-traumatic stress disorder, that could be depression, other issues like that,” she said. “The other is the sociological conditions -- that cultural homelessness -- feeling like they don't belong in one culture or another, feeling constantly intimidated or harassed, or isolated from mainstream population.”

Another sign is the development of an “us versus them" mentality and anger toward anyone who doesn't agree with their beliefs.

Mirahmadi said Donald Trump's latest call to ban Muslims from the country temporarily is very damaging. She said that would isolate Muslims more and will only fuel the "us versus them" mentality.

“We are all Americans,” said Dr. Mirahmadi. “My daughter is a third generation American. I have no other country to go to, so this is my home. This is the country I defend. This is the country I'm proud of.”

She is urging Muslim communities to reach out, talk to their neighbors, get involved in the community and give others the chance to see they are more alike than different. The hope is that will help bridge the divide that seems to be growing.

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