Wednesday, September 24, 2014

War Again: Could Lead to Uptick in Domestic Terrorism

Cartoon with a lot of truth...
(hard to face, but real)

Anti-government Reason Then 
(nowadays purely anti-U.S.)

I've been working on this for some time ... so bear with me (hope it's not too dry). It is very important subject and very timely.

Background: American intelligence officials have said the number of Americans who have joined rebel groups in Syria — not just ISIS, but others — had nearly doubled since January 2014. The officials believe that more than 100 Americans have fought alongside groups, including those who have died while fighting, since the civil war began there three years ago.

Various American agencies have specifically identified Americans fighting for ISIS based on (1) intelligence gathered from travel records, (2) family members, (3) intercepted electronic communications, (4) social media postings, and (5) surveillance of Americans overseas – that is those who had expressed interest in going to Syria beforehand.

Additionally, many more Europeans have joined the fight in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. By some estimates, more than 1,000 are in that category.

The British government has identified about 500 of its UK citizens who have gone to Syria. Just as troubling is that about half of that number have returned to Britain. A small number have died on the battlefield as well, officials have said.

Yes, this theme is troubling on many levels and for obvious reasons and questions: (1) do these “fighters” after they return home have their eyes on, or worse, plans of action to do harm here at home, or in other friendly Western countries (e.g., London, Paris, Rome, el al), (2) how prepared are they to carry out any attacks, and more-importantly, (3) are they, or can they be successfully monitored over a long period of time to ensure that they are not up to anything bad, or if they are up to no good, (4) how can such attacks be prevented well in advance?

Let’s face, domestic terrorism is a huge growing problem; not just by these numbers returning from Syria and elsewhere, but the old-fashioned “home-grown” ones already here spouting up all the time in small numbers – with God knows what they have in mind.

Related to this topic from the NY Times (here in 2011), and this flashback to 1985 (when it was not growing). Then bingo: 1995 in OK City when three men, Timothy McVeigh, aided by Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier blew up the Federal building killing 168 and injuring 500. Three men – now imagine scattered around the country, similar to the 19 hijackers who were receiving their flight training before 9/11 – kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

Domestic terrorism (from the FBI files here and from the Rand Corporation here) is real and it’s in our face. Keep in mind, it does not take many people to do great harm. If they are well-financed, well-armed, have a good plan, and execute that plan with subtle skill and surprise, then even small numbers can do great harm. Related to this are “hate groups” spread across the U.S. – this too is a major concern.

How to combat this, or better yet, how to prevent it or greatly reduce the chances for domestic terrorism here at home in the first place? Terrorism has been around forever – it can never be stopped, but it can greatly be prevented, and that is the work of good counter-intelligence agencies and the support everyone of us can give them. 

As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (or in the case of preventing an act of domestic terrorism is to prevent a heart full of pain).

This is topic with extensive links and data – check them out by a simple “domestic terror” searching. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.  

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