It is time to recognize that terrorists are not constrained by our organizational mandates, lack of imagination or fixation with past tactics. They will continue to change targets and tactics which exploits our open society. Politicians continue to tell us how they will defeat terrorism and make us safe but a commitment to engaged citizenship and the fundamental American freedoms in the face of the threat is the bedrock of countering terrorism.
Mass shootings persist within the walls of American institutions. In a country church in Texas, an individual killed 26 unsuspecting worshippers and wounded dozens more on a Sunday morning. In the aftermath of these mass killings, Americans seek ways to make sense of the seemingly senseless violence in hopes of preventing more bloodshed in the future.
Whether the shooter is branded a domestic terrorist, a violent extremist, a lone wolf, a gunman, or a terrorist, the emergence and persistence of mass shootings present significant challenges for analysts and law enforcement professionals. Security analysts and law enforcement require the analytical tools to assess and categorize such events in hopes of preventing or minimizing future incidents. But as mass violence has become a part of the social vocabulary of the age, violence against large groups of innocent civilians has increasingly been used by individuals who do not meet the traditional criteria to be accurately deemed “terrorists.”
Cop without a Client – a perspective on public safety in an age of unstoppable cars (by Aristotle Wolfe)
I am a California highway patrolman, and this is what I know. I know that driving is dangerous, and I know that people are fallible, a combination that results in over 30,000 deaths a year on our nation’s highways. I also know that criminals drive those highways, and I know how to find them, even when I am just trying to keep the roads safe. I know that, when I do my job well, less people die and more criminals go to jail. I also know that this may change someday. In the future, cars will drive themselves, and when they do, our highways are going to be safer than I can make them today. I know that will change my job, but I don’t know how. I think driverless cars are going to save a lot of lives, and I think that is good. But I also think there is space in this new, safer world for criminals—and terrorists—to move more freely than they do today, to commit crimes we have not yet imagined, with fewer traffic cops out there to stop them. And I think we all need to do some thinking on that.
The United States has new leadership. Among many notable changes made immediately by the new administration, the president has authorized religion-based immigration restrictions and has taken action to focus solely on Islam as a source of violent extremism within the United States. These early actions indicate a newly institutionalized “Islamophobia” that could prove to be disastrous for national security efforts if not addressed correctly by security practitioners.
The National Homeland Security Conference provides a direct bridge to connect and share best practices among those charged with keeping the nation safe. The conference brings together over 1,000 attendees from the homeland security and emergency management disciplines, representing local, state, federal government, military, and the private sector.
This year the NHSA will be hosting 60 and 75 minute national homeland security presentations based on the following areas: Recent Events; Training for Preparedness; Grant Management; Emergency Medical Response and Public Health Issues; Port and Transit Security; Intelligence & Information Sharing; Whole Community Preparedness; Public Safety; Counterterrorism – Protecting The Homeland. (Buffalo, NY)
In the wake of violent attacks on civilians in the U.S. and Europe, ISIS, also known as the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”, poses a unique and unprecedented challenge to the western world. Americans, in particular, struggle to understand the group, its motivations, and capabilities. Among the most important points of conversation is the recurrent question: Does ISIS pose an “existential” threat to the United States?
When ideology is primary, the “means” is a matter of access
In France, the investigation into the Bastille Day attack is in its infancy. During the nation’s declared days of mourning, specialists will confer to uncover the specifics of how this horrific event occurred. Over the coming days and weeks, details will emerge about the driver, his networks and, perhaps most importantly, his motivations. But what is known now is that a rented delivery truck evaded security measures and menacingly ran down innocent men, women and children. While many share the brutality of the attack, its lack of sophistication should come as a surprise to few.
“Hey man this is Reuben. I don’t know if you heard but there’s a city-wide assist and reports of officers down at the demonstration. I’ve got some guys and we’re headed that way and I just wanted you to know in case you hadn’t heard.”
That was my first indication that something had gone horribly wrong. I glanced at social media and immediately saw throngs of people scattering from the anti-police brutality protests going on in downtown Dallas. I knew it was bad. They reported one officer having been evac’d to the hospital in a squad car – you know it’s bad when cops are evacuating other cops in squad cars and not waiting for ambulances.
The advent of ‘new terrorism’ studies that began in the 1970’s remains as robust as ever. Exacerbated by 9/11, 3/11, 7/7, the Arab Spring, the rise of the Islamic State, the two Paris attacks, and more recently the San Bernardino attack to name but a few, terrorism research is here to stay. Couched under the banner of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) governments around the globe have sought to manage risk and build resilience through securitization and engagement. Convinced that radicalization is the ultimate evil, an enormous amount of research has focused on radicalization and ‘Islamic radicalization’ in particular. However, despite years of research, what is known about radicalization is defined more by what it is not rather than what it is.
The November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, France that killed 150 people and wounded more than 350, and the San Bernardino, U.S. on December 2, 2015, that killed 14 people, raise questions as to the conflation of security and democratic principles, especially that of privacy. Smart phones and other devices have an array of applications/tools that enable users to encrypt various forms of communication. The question for the security apparatus in democratic societies is how do we continue to promote ideals of freedom and privacy while ensuring security.