Indian-American appointed Coordinator for Counterterrorism Communications

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The Obama administration has appointed an Indian-American to coordinate efforts at building partnerships to develop a communications strategy for countering terrorism worldwide.

The State Department announced Feb. 18 that Rashad Hussain, former Obama envoy to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, has been appointed United States Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.

Hussain will lead a staff drawn from several departments and agencies to expand America’s international engagement and partnerships to counter violent extremism and to develop strategic counterterrorism communications around the world.  The announcement was made amid a three-day White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism attended by some 60 representatives from advocacy organizations, law enforcement officials, and philanthropists.  Increasingly, the war on terrorism is being seen by the Obama administration and other leaders as a ‘War of Ideas.” In his speech at the three-day summit, President Obama said the U.S. must work to “discredit violent ideologies,” and that there was no one single profile of a terrorist, and the main objective was to prevent organizations like Islamic State from recruiting impressionable youth.

Hussain will also serve as Coordinator of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which was established in 2010 “to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide strategic communications focused on violent extremists and terrorist organizations.”

Hussain served as special envoy to OIC since 2010, a role in which he has worked with the OIC, Muslim-majority countries, and civil society to deepen and broaden U.S. engagement with Muslim communities around the world. Prior to that he was Deputy Associate Counsel to President Obama, focusing on national security, new media, and science and technology issues.  He has also served as Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., where he prosecuted criminal cases.

In 2009, Hussain worked with the National Security Council in developing and pursuing the “New Beginning” that President Obama outlined in his address in Cairo, Egypt.

Hussain was a member of the legal staff for the Presidential Transition Team when Obama was elected to office in 2008.  He served in the past as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and before that as a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he focused on national security-related issues.

He has a J.D. from Yale Law School, where was editor of the Yale Law Journal. He also has a  Master’s degrees in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In January 2013, Hussain received the Distinguished Honor Award given for “exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the U.S. Government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance.”