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US seeking to fight terrorism at grassroots

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on July 2, 2013
US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on July 2, 2013.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday unveiled a new drive to tackle the root causes of violent extremism, as he condemned a series of "heinous" attacks, including the Kenya mall siege.

"It is fair to say that unspeakable evil still exists in our world. We have to find a way to prevent, to preempt, to act ahead of these kinds of obscenities," Kerry told a global forum in New York.

He denounced recent attacks including the massacre in a Nairobi mall by Somali militants and Sunday's devastating double suicide attack on a church in northwest Pakistan which left 82 dead.

"Cowardly attacks like these cannot be allowed to change who we are, or shake our resolve to find peace and justice for all," the top US diplomat said.

He announced that the Global Counterterrorism Forum set up two years ago with other nations around the world had already mobilized some $200 million to help train people in fighting terror attacks.

Two training centers are underway, one already open in Abu Dhabi, with a second to open in Malta next year.

Kerry said the United States was planning to put an additional $30 million into the fund, and was hoping to launch a new arm of the forum specifically to tackle terrorism at grassroots level.

"From Kenya to Pakistan from Mali to Yemen the threat that we face is more diffused, centralized, geographically dispersed than ever before," he said.

"Addressing this threat will require every tool in our arsenal, political, economical, diplomatic, military -- and perhaps most importantly, the power of our ideas."

But Kerry stressed that "getting this right is not just about taking terrorists off the street, it's about providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment."

"It's about challenging the narrative of violence that is used to justify the slaughtering of innocent people."

For such efforts to be "effective, they've got to be driven by local knowledge, they've got to be responsive to concerns of local communities," he told the forum.