New challenges are emerging as the focus shifts to domestic terrorism. A new report has been released from the Bipartisan Policy Center Homeland Security Project detailing the changed terrorist landscape and making a number of recommendations. The report was released on September 9 this year and notes that the shift from foreign terrorists to homegrown threats has altered the counter terrorism landscape. Now, domestic violent threats are much more prevalent from individuals "who are merely inspired" by foreign groups. Fierce Homeland Security reported that the group recommends that a single official within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should be granted charge of countering violent extremism. Because, as the report states, "if no one is directly responsible, few effective or coordinated actions are likely to be achieved."
Boston Bombings represent change in terror tactics
The Boston Bombings represent a change in terror tactics. Instead of terrorist cells being supported by a large networks of dedicated people, security experts are seeing increased "lone wolf" activity. Because lone wolves attack as individuals or as part of a small, tight-knit group, it is especially difficult to detect their activities. Especially concerning is data pointing to the increased radicalization of lone wolves, through internet exchanges and social media. The lone wolf problem is revealing weaknesses in the US counter-terrorism strategy which has been focused largely on dismantling terrorist networks overseas.
"The Boston Marathon bombings illustrate the threat posed by al-Qaeda-inspired individuals who radicalize in the online world and act as 'lone wolves.' Although difficult to detect, these individuals are unlikely to be capable of perpetrating anything on the scale of 9/11. Whether the Boston bombings are something of an outlier or a harbinger of things to come remains unclear. These 'lone wolves' also demonstrate the difficulty of detecting would-be terrorists when plotters have few, if any, connections to known terrorist groups, are generally not known to have previously engaged in criminal activity – and when the type of information stove-piping and lack of inter-agency and federal-state-local coordination identified by the 9/11 Commission report still persists," stated the report.
Domestic terrorism highlights need for individual and community resilience
Against an undetermined threat with an unknown enemy, the emphasis for detection and prevention will likely fall to local law enforcement for detection with Federal support for prevention. In addition, the emerging threat landscape highlights the need to continue focusing efforts toward strengthening individual and community resilience.
"No Government can protect all of its citizens all of the time from every attack," said Ari Vidali, Envisage, CEO. "What we can do is increase the resilience of our communities, improve our local public safety apparatus, and encourage people to be prepared."
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