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Senator Hassan Leads Discussion with Faith Leaders, Law Enforcement About Efforts to Protect Religious Institutions from Terrorist Attacks

NASHUA – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday led a discussion with leaders of Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, along with law enforcement and Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, to discuss efforts to protect religious institutions from terrorist attacks.

Senator Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, worked with the New Hampshire congressional delegation to secure more than $4 million for the state through the State Homeland Security Program and $150,000 for seven New Hampshire religious institutions through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. This was the first time grants were awarded to New Hampshire to strengthen security at houses of worship.  

See below for highlights of the discussion:

Nashua Telegraph: Hassan hopes to thwart ‘domestic terrorism’

By Grace Pecci

NASHUA – New Hampshire officials are not waiting for a mass shooting before they upgrade security, as leaders are actively working to enhance safety at Nashua’s Temple Beth Abraham.

[…] Recently, U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, along with U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, all D-N.H., announced a $150,000 grant from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program for the purpose of helping seven New Hampshire houses of worship bolster their physical security.

Hassan joined Donchess, Nashua Police Chief Michael Carignan and temple officials for a Wednesday discussion of these efforts.

“What’s been really important to me is trying to make sure that we can get resources that can help houses of worship at a time when I think we are all concerned about the rise of attacks we’ve been seeing,” Hassan said. “I certainly respect and understand the tension here about wanting to have an open place of worship that is inviting and comforting and the need to make sure that everybody is safe so that they can come here in a state of full peace and security.”

[…] As she looks forward, Hassan said she is working on a bipartisan bill that will increase the availability of resources and also increase the amount of funding for rural communities.

“One of my challenges in Washington, D.C., is getting people from other states to understand that our largest places are smaller than some of my colleagues’ smallest towns,” Hassan said.

Hassan also sits on the Homeland Security Committee, where there have been countless discussions on safety.

“Because I’m on the Homeland Security Committee, I have been focusing on prevention of domestic terrorism,” Hassan said. “On the Homeland Security Committee, there is a group of us trying to not only shine a light on the evil of white supremacy, but also pushing to really talk about how we go about preventing it and how you go about disrupting the connection between a young vulnerable person who is easily exploited online,” she said. “This really starts at the community level with conversations between police and community leaders about how to detect people who might be vulnerable to this kind of extremism.”

During the discussion, Temple Beth Abraham Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett thanked Hassan for her communication after last year’s mass shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue, which left 11 dead and seven injured.

“Senator Hassan made a point of calling every Rabbi in the state she could track down,” Spira-Savett said, while recounting Hassan’s moral support.

He described this support as, “the sense in not just being welcomed to the community, but being partners.” Donchess said due to the concern about security, the city’s police department is trying to plan ahead to deal with incidents they pray will not happen, but can happen.

[…] Near the end of her visit, Hassan said, “I think what we all have to do is continue these conversations, get the best possible advice we can and then really focus on the long term about how we can prevent these ideologies from spreading and how we, frankly, can keep weapons of war out of the hands of these people.”

Spira-Savett said, “The thing that we want to communicate to our folks is ...we have the public support of our community and our law enforcement.”