HOMELAND SECURITY: Preventing Homegrown Terrorism

December 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm 1 comment

White House Releases Expanded Plan

Defense Dept. photo

The Obama administration released its plan Thursday for combating homegrown terrorism and thwarting violent extremism in the United States.

Bearing the weighty title — Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States — calls protecting U.S. communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization “a top national security priority.”

Homeland Security, Pentagon and local law enforcement officials have grown increasingly concerned about so-called homegrown terrorists — American citizens who have been radicalized by videos and internet sites espousing violent extremism. A joint Senate and House Homeland Security Committee hearing this past week cited 33 threats, plots and strikes against U.S. military facilities and personnel in this country and overseas since the 9/11 attacks.

Several of the alleged plotters were U.S. citizens. Recent attacks and attempted attacks in the U.S. include:

May 2010– An attempt to blow up a van in New York City’s busy Times Square by a U.S. citizen who allegedly received training from the Pakistani Taliban.

November 2009 — Thirteen people are killed and 32 others wounded — most of them soldiers — at Fort Hood, Texas in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. A U.S. Army major and psychiatrist has been charged with the attack. Before the shootings Maj. Nidal Hasan had corresponded with a radical anti-American Islamic cleric who was branded an al Qaeda recruiter, placed on a targeted hit list by the Obama administration and killed in Yemen this year by a U.S. drone strike.

September 2009 — Najibullah Zazi was reportedly under al Qaeda’s direction when he was arrested for plotting to blow up New York City’s transit system.

June 2009 — Carlos Bledsoe, a U.S. -born, self-described follower of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, shot two soldiers, killing one, outside a Little Rock, Arkansas Army recruiting station.

The White House implementation plan takes a three-pronged approach:

— reaching out to local communities that may be targeted for recruiting by violent extremists (like al Qaeda or al Shebab — but not limited to the Muslim community)

— helping government and law enforcement agencies — from local to federal — develop expertise to prevent violent extremism

— countering the propaganda of violent extremist groups and promote American ideals

The 21-page plan, in rather wonky language, calls for reaching out to communities that could be subjected to violent extremist propaganda. The plan never mentions Islamic extremism, a point that annoyed or disappointed several lawmakers. (More on this in coming days).

Other critics took exception to what they said was equating a terrorist incident like the Fort Hood shootings to gang violence.

“Just as we engage and raise awareness to prevent gang violence, sexual offenses, school shootings, and other acts of violence, so too must we ensure that our communities are empowered to recognize threats of violent extremism and understand the range of government and non-government resources that can
help keep their families, friends, and neighbors safe,” the plan said,

The plan also calls for a “whole government” approach that includes the departments of Education, Labor, Commerce and Veterans Affairs as well as the Justice, Homeland Security and Defense departments. That approach includes steps to combat violent extremist propaganda by promoting — and adhering to — America values of respect for the law, civil liberties and ethnic and religious diversity. in short — don’t violate the Constitution or law to get the bad guys.

Other steps outlined in the plan call for building new partnerships and overcoming distrust between communities and local law enforcement; the creation of an online portal to engage communities targeted by violent extremists and keep them up-to-date on security issues;  increasing research and analysis partnerships with foreign governments, academia and non-governmental organizations to better understand violent extremists; expanding analysis of the role the Internet plays in radicalization and studying the behavior patterns of single actor– so-called lone wolf — terrorists; improving the quality of  and  reviewing the standards for countering violent extremism and counter terrorism. The FBI was embarrassed earlier this year when some agents complained that the training they were getting presented offensive and inaccurate information.

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Entry filed under: Counter Terrorism, Homeland Security, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Washington. Tags: , , , , , .

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