DECEMBER 05, 2011
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has distributed $19 million to nonprofit establishments in urban areas that are considered at high risk of a terrorist attack, including abortion clinics and an Islamic center.
The idea is to give the groups the necessary resources to improve security and make them less susceptible to an attack. The DHS calls it “target hardening activities” and the official program is known as Urban Areas Security Initiative, specifically the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
A total of 269 nonprofits across the U.S., all considered high-threat, high-density urban areas, will split the cash and the money will be used for security-related training and to install physical security equipment. The goal is to help them prevent, respond and recover from acts of terrorism.
But a look at the long list of recipients raises questions about how the money is allocated for this particular cause. While the majority of the grants went to Jewish centers and groups that could feasibly be targeted by radical Islamic terrorists, some are private medical facilities, catholic groups and a profitable Baptist hospital. In California and New York Planned Parenthood abortion clinics got the target hardening grants.
In Maryland, the Islamic Society of Baltimore got a target hardening grant as well as an interfaith center that includes a Roman Catholic church and a Methodist/Presbyterian church. All 30 of the grants distributed in Illinois went to Chicago-area nonprofits, including a politically-connected college foundation with more than $5 million in assets and several Catholic hospitals.
Funds are allocated based on risk analysis, effectiveness and integration with broader state and local preparedness efforts, according to the DHS. To be considered, nonprofits must demonstrate that they are at high risk of a terrorist attack and located within one of the specific eligible urban areas. How exactly does a group do this?
The government has a formula that includes the following: Identification and substantiation (e.g., police reports or insurance claims) of prior threats or attacks against the nonprofit or closely related group by a terrorist organization, network, or cell ; symbolic value of the site as a highly recognized national or historical institution that renders it as a possible target of terrorism; role of the applicant nonprofit organization in responding to or recovering from terrorist attacks; findings from previously conducted risk assessments including threat or vulnerability.
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