This article discusses the vexed relationship between women’s activism, state security, and feminist empowerment by focusing on the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative, a program that seeks to build partnerships between government agencies and Muslim communities to prevent homegrown terrorism. From its inception, CVE has been controversial among Muslim and non-Muslim leaders within Southern California’s civil rights communities. While some suggest that American Muslims must play a leading role in countering domestic terrorism by working with government agencies, others feel that these partnerships are only meant to extend surveillance into Muslim communities. In this article, the authors critically examine how women are incorporated into local counterterrorism measures via CVE to think about the impact of such incorporation on their intimate, familial, and community relationships in the local politics of the War on Terror. The authors are interested in how liberal feminist discourses of motherhood and empowerment are appropriated in the service of national security and how such articulations of feminism domesticate and delink critique from the politics of racial solidarity and empire in the increasingly xenophobic sociopolitical landscape of the United States. Based on ethnographic research in Southern California’s Muslim communities, the authors trace the complex contours of women’s agency and the transnational politics of “Muslim America.” The authors draw on intersectional and anti-imperialist theories, as well as a body of feminist securitization scholarship to think about the ways that women’s activism, communal resistance, and national security are interlinked in the construction of the discourses around counterterrorism and their affiliated policies.

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