By David Swanson
Hi, this is David Swanson, executive director of World BEYOND War, campaign coordinator of RootsAction, and host of Talk World Radio. I was asked by the Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism for a video on foreign intervention and domination as an important factor in the spread of violence and extremism.
I’m not a huge fan of the word “extremism,” both because I think we should be extreme about things that merit it, and because the U.S. government distinguishes bad extremist murderers from good moderate murderers in places like Syria where the distinction is between people trying to violently overthrow a government and people trying to violently overthrow a government. But if extremism means racism and hatred, then it is clearly and currently and historically has been fueled in places where wars are waged and in places that wage wars far from home.
I’m not a huge fan of the word “intervention,” both because it sounds so helpful and because it avoids the term used in the treaties that make it illegal, namely war. The ways in which wars and occupations spread violence, including torture, are inseperable from their spread of lawlessness and impunity. Interventions and enhanced interrogations aren’t crimes, but war and torture are.
Studies have found 95% of suicide attacks to be motivated by ending a foreign occupation. If you don’t want to see any more suicide terrorist attacks in the world, and you’re willing, toward that end, to kill millions of people in wars, to create the biggest refugee crisis ever, to sanction murder and torture, to set up lawless prisons, to spend trillions of dollars desperately needed by humanity and other living things, to give up your civil liberties, to devastate the natural environment, to spread hatred and bigotry, and to erode the rule of law, then you must really have a very strong attachment to foreign occupations of other people’s countries, because all you had to do was give those up.
Studies have also found that nations that sent token numbers of troops to join in the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan generated terrorism against themselves back in their own nations in proportion to the number of troops they sent to participate. Spain had one foreign terrorist attack, took its troops out of Iraq, and had no more. Other Western governments, despite anything they might tell you in other circumstances about believing the science and following the facts, have simply maintained that the only way to counter terrorism is to do what generates more terrorism.
The lawless world in which the U.S. government as top enemy of the International Criminal Court, top violator of the UN Charter, and top holdout on human rights treaties, preaches to others about a “rule-based order” is a world in which criminal impunity spreads, and the possibility of an actual rule of law is made to seem impossible. Efforts by Spain or Belgium or the ICC to investigate U.S. murder or torture are blocked by bullying. Torture is modeled to the world and proliferates accordingly. Then drone murder is modeled to the world. This week we saw a report on the CIA plotting to kidnap or murder Julian Assange. The only reason they hesitated and questioned the legality was their preference not to use a missile. Missiles are now entirely above the rule of law. And the only reason they prefered not to use a missile was Assange’s location in London.
And over 20 years since September 11, 2001, the U.S. public has effectively been made incapable of imagining the crimes of that day being prosecuted as crimes (rather than used as excuses for greater crimes).
The lawlessness and wars have fueled weapons sales, which have fueled wars, as well as base construction which has fueled wars. They have also fueled racism and hatred and violence in the heart of the U.S. empire. At least 36% of mass shooters in the United States have been trained by the U.S. military. Local police departments are armed and trained by the U.S. and Israeli militaries.
I haven’t said much about domination. I think that word was well-chosen and should be mentioned more. Without the drive to dominate, ending wars and occupations — and deadly sanctions — would be significantly easier.
- November 5, 2021
Terrorism is a word that is used in many different contexts. In addition, it can be both a tactic and strategy employed by terror groups against perceived enemies. Although the world has witnessed an alarming increase in terrorist activities over the years, counter-terrorism efforts have been largely successful. Counter-terrorism is not just about military action against terrorism, but also about dealing with various root causes so as to eliminate them completely. Various studies show that the most important factor influencing people’s attitudes towards terrorism is how they perceive counter-terrorism. In this article, we highlight a number of the most effective ways to counter terrorism.
- Develop an understanding of why people resort to terrorism
Terrorism is often used as a tactic or strategy by terrorists. Although there are different explanations for the rise in terrorism, most experts agree that it is related to political grievances. The best way to counter terrorism is to develop an understanding of its root causes and find ways of addressing them effectively. For example, instead of using force to deal with terrorist activities, it is more important to address sectarian differences within Muslim communities. This will go a long way in developing an understanding of the motives behind terrorist groups like ISIS (Daesh). A dialogue between different communities can help develop an understanding of what drives young people to join these groups.
- Find ways of engaging with both state and society
Although the state has an important role to play in curbing terrorism, it is not enough. Counter-terrorism efforts must engage with both the society and the state for them to be effective. For example, instead of engaging with different communities at arm’s length, it is more important to develop an understanding of their needs and challenges. In addition, it is important to engage with the state so as to ensure that rules of engagement contain no room for ambiguity.
- Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood and report it to the authorities
Terrorist activities depend highly on intelligence. Whether it is an attack or a recruitment drive, terrorist groups rely heavily on intelligence to carry out their operations. Knowing about suspicious people is the best way to counter terrorism because this allows security agencies to keep track of dangerous elements in society. For example, if you see someone with unusual clothing or religious symbols, then you should report these people to the nearest security agency. This will help them identify and deal with such elements before they cause harm.
- Recognize the role of media and social media
Although social media has many positive uses, it poses a significant threat in some cases. Terror groups have been able to change their tactics by making use of new technologies such as the Internet, mobile phones, and social media. For example, terrorist groups use the Internet to recruit members, exchange information on tactics, provide motivation, and raise funds. While it is important to recognize this development for counter-terrorism efforts to be successful, it is also important to set up rules of engagement that address new challenges. This includes setting clear guidelines on what constitutes the limits of free speech.
- Stay informed about the latest terrorist attacks and how they are being handled by law enforcement agencies
Experts agree that terrorism cannot be stopped overnight. It is a long process and requires great effort from all stakeholders. For example, it is important to remain informed about the latest terrorist attacks so as to understand how the different stakeholders are dealing with them. By remaining aware of developments around the world, it will be possible to learn lessons on what works and what doesn’t.
- Speak up if you feel threatened, even if it’s not directly related to terrorism
Not everyone who is involved in terrorist activities outwardly exhibits this trait. Instead, they go through a process of radicalization during which they become less tolerant of others and develop feelings of revenge against the rest of the world. The best way to deal with these people is by setting up mechanisms that allow anyone to speak up if they feel threatened on any level. For example, if you feel like your co-worker is becoming increasingly intolerant of people who wear headscarves or crosses, then you should report this to the security agencies immediately.
- Inform the public about terrorism and their tactics
While there is no doubt that terrorists operate in the shadows, it is important to ensure that the public understands how they work. This is because this information can help people recognize suspicious activity early so as to report it to security agencies accordingly. For example, many terrorist groups have begun using propaganda videos on social media sites and other websites to spread their message. By circulating this information across all social media channels, people will have access to the latest news so as to remain informed.
It is important for states and society to work together in order to address the root causes of terrorism. This includes developing an understanding of why people resort to terrorism, finding ways to address social and economic factors that may lead people to terrorism, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood and reporting it to the authorities, and circulating awareness campaigns about the latest terrorist techniques. If we neglect to do any one of these things, then we will not be able to counter terrorism effectively. It is also very important to speak up if you feel threatened, even if it doesn’t seem directly related to terrorism. This is because terrorists often target people who are more vulnerable than others so as to advance their agenda. Terrorism is a serious issue but there are effective ways to counter it if we remain vigilant and alert.
- Pages: 4
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- Category: ProblemsTerrorismViolence
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“The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, and huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our Nation into chaos and retreat, but they have failed.” – George W Bush. Terrorism has struck this nation in some terrible ways, from the Bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to the plane crashes to the Twin Towers in New York City, New York. The question is how can we best reduce the problem of terrorism?
There is really no way to completely stop terrorism, but there are ways we can reduce the threat or problem of it. Terrorism has struck the nation or other nations in many ways including planes, bombs, etc. The US treatment of Guantanamo prisoners, holding people indefinitely without charges or trials and brutally force-feeding the hunger strikers, is an affront to people throughout the Muslim world and of our American values. Of the 166 prisoners left in Guantanamo, 86 have been cleared for release, meaning the US government has determined they represent no threat to our nation. President Obama can use the waiver system, certifying to Congress that it is in the US national interest to release them. He just did this, for the first time, for two Algerian prisoners. He should do this for all 86 cleared prisoners, then bring the remaining prisoners to the US for trials. That could be a way to help reduce threats by giving them back people we have taken, but in return they give us back people they have taken of ours.
There are other options we can take into action. We can stop making enemies by not bombing any more terrorism. The head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is calling on jihadists to retaliate for US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. The Yemeni group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), where the US says the threats are emanating from, is also calling for retaliation for drones strikes (there have been four strikes in Yemen since July 28). Drone strikes have become the number one recruiting tool for extremists. By grounding the drones, we will stop creating new enemies faster than we can kill them. Try to become an ally not an enemy.
These ways to stop terrorism can be effective. We need to cooperate with our enemies and make them allies. If we make them allies they could possibly help us in the future if we have problems with other countries. Terrorism won’t go away probably ever but we can always reduce the threat of it. The united states also need to have better gun control, and we need to monitor people and what they are doing on the internet better. Gun control will prevent terrorism by reducing the number of weapons accessible to terrorists. Violent crimes and urban terrorism has dropped over 33% since the introduction of the background check. Something as simple as having a waiting period at gun shows can help reduce terrorism. It is possible for a group of people to go into the show separately, and purchase three or four weapons, and then use them to rob a bank, or take hostages. Currently at gun shows, as long as you are 18, you can buy a variety of weapons, and ammunition. Although a full ban on guns would not stop weapons from coming into this country illegally, it would limit the guns accessible to criminals and possible terrorists.
Many times on TV after a terrorist-attack the news will announce that this person had terrorist connections in the past. Now if they had terrorist connections why were they allowed to live freely, where they could plan terrorist attacks? If the government had a monitoring service to keep track of people with suspected histories of terrorism, or possible connections to terrorists, the FBI could make a careful watch of a person s communications. This would help prevent terrorism from happening by not allowing correspondence between the suspect, and the organization. Although the person would not be a prisoner, he would be on parole so to speak, so he could lead a normal, productive life. But if he made a large purchase of any possible bomb making materials his house would be searched. This can help prevent attacks because the person would not have any opportunities to plan any attacks.
Terrorism can be reduced with prevention, detection, and action. The problem will not go away if people just sit there and not take any action against it. Society needs to create a team to counteract terrorism, make allies not enemies, have better gun control, and monitor high-risk people. With these simple steps we can reduce terrorism. “We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.” – George W Bush
Our goal is to oppose Islamization by exposing, marginalizing, and disempowering orthodox Islam.
Halt Terrorism — The Top Seven Things a Citizen Can Do
Much of the work of fighting terrorism is done by governments, security agencies, and the military. But there are practical things an ordinary citizen can do to make a significant difference in defeating terrorism. If you’re ready to do your part, here are the top seven ways a citizen can help halt terrorism. Each principle links to an article about it.
1. Be observant and report suspicious activities. First you need to learn what to look for. Then you can use your eyes and ears as you go about your daily activities. If you know what to look for, being observant doesn’t mean being paranoid. Most activities are not suspicious. But a few specific kinds of activities are. Follow the link above to find out what those are, and then. be observant.
2. Share DVDs with your friends. This may be the most useful thing you can do. It is such a simple and natural thing to say something like, “I saw a really interesting film last night.” And then talk about one of the most interesting or surprising things in the film. When the person you’re talking to is interested, you can say, “I own it on DVD. Would you like to borrow it?” This is a great way to get valuable information into the heads of the other members of your country. The ideas in their heads has a significant impact on how successfully we collectively fight terrorism; it determines what policies and which politicians they vote for. Go to the link above for our suggested DVDs to share.
3. Steer conversations to the topic of terrorism. Improve your ability to start casual conversations and gently open those conversations to the topic of terrorism, and improve your ability to do it in a way that prevents others from being turned off by it. Terrorism can be an ugly and scary subject if not approached in the right way. Influencing opinions is a vital task you can do to fight terrorism. Ideas and opinions are the driving force behind world events. You can change someone’s opinion about terrorism, but you must first be talking about terrorism. Follow the link above and begin today.
4. Learn more about influencing people. Once you have someone in a conversation, how can you change their opinions? How can you successfully influence them? This is also a skill you can improve with know-how and practice. Skill can win people to a new way of thinking. A lack of skill can entrench them more solidly in their old way of thinking. Skill is all-important, and it can be improved, no matter how good you are already. Follow the link above and get started.
5. When you find a good article online, share it. This is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. If you do it well, you can enhance the impact of what you share. Follow the link for some good tips on how to do it well.
6. Help people see the URL WhatYouCanDoAboutIslam.com. The domain name goes to our master list of things you can do. Add the domain address to your email signature. Print it on business cards and post them on bulletin boards. Get a bumper sticker with the address on it. Not everyone is interested in the topic, but those who are will be curious when they see the URL, and you’ve just sent them to a good resource. Another one to send people to, which has been especially designed as a gentle introduction to Islam is InquiryIntoIslam.com.
7. Take the pledge and read the Koran. There are many good reasons for doing this. First of all, you will find out for yourself what Islam is about. But also, when you’re talking to other people, you’ll have an authority others just don’t have when it comes to Islam. Anyone can read it. Follow the link above to get a good recommendation for a modern-English version (many versions are written in Old English for some reason, which isn’t very easy to read). Take the pledge and do it.
And read about Islam. Become familiar with the subject. Read The Sword of the Prophet and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (two of my favorites). There are many to choose from. Not all books are created equal. When you find a really good one, get it in an audio format and listen to it while you drive. This way you can easily listen to the same material many times. When you share information or perspectives with someone, you have a good opportunity to really illuminate the subject for them. If you have only a vague understanding of something you read only once, you’ll find it hard to be lucid or convincing, and you’ll fail to persuade. Part of persuasion is knowing what you’re talking about. The other part is skill with people.
You want to do something about terrorism. You want to halt the terrorists in their tracks. Excellent! Choose one of the seven ideas above — the one that appeals to you the most — and do it. On behalf of all of us, I thank you for your intention and effort.
Preventing terrorist attacks and enhancing security are DHS’s most fundamental responsibilities. This mission requires the collective efforts of numerous organizations, public and private, including HSSEDI.
DHS must fulfill its anti-terrorism mission while also protecting lawful commerce, civil liberties, privacy, and other fundamental American freedoms. This means the agency must be an intelligence- and risk-driven organization—one that takes advantage of information and capabilities quickly to prevent and mitigate threats.
We help DHS take a department-wide approach to establishing the processes and systems to turn operational requirements into sustainable capabilities. Additionally, our ability to draw on knowledge developed working with other government agencies enables us to help DHS combat a variety of evolving threats.
HSSEDI’s work also supports the security needs of other federal, state, and local agencies, as well as the private sector. Our work involves accessing, receiving, analyzing, and sharing information from law enforcement, intelligence, and other sources.
Leveraging Social Media and Big Data Analytics to Prevent Terrorist Attacks
An example of this collaborative approach involves our work in social media analytics.
Consider, for instance, the 2015 San Bernardino attack. In December that year, 14 people were killed and 22 seriously injured in an attack in San Bernardino, Calif. It was perpetrated by homegrown extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist group.
How were they inspired? Via social media and the internet. Later that month, the DHS Science and Technology Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, and HSSEDI created a pilot team to examine how social media analytics could apply to the screening and vetting of individuals and organizations traveling or seeking immigration benefits. The goal? Help prevent such attacks both at home and abroad.
The pilot team members reached out across DHS and industry to conduct market research and establish a commercial baseline. They used their knowledge of international social media sites, media, and language processing to focus the review of open-source and social media analytic capabilities and technologies. Ultimately, the pilot team evaluated more than 270 social media tools for their potential for addressing critical mission areas. They highlighted solutions for accessing some 30 social media platforms on the Internet and darknets, using datasets in 120-plus languages. They also discovered problems with existing analytic capabilities that were quickly improved for government agencies.
The pilot team’s work is serving as the national testbed for establishing the DHS Social Media Center. Their work also helped components of DHS to improve their capabilities to fulfill their missions, achieve operational efficiencies, and lower costs through the automation of advanced analytics, thereby advancing our sponsor’s overall goals.
Addressing Security Risk for Global Commercial Airspace
Our work in aviation security is another prime example. The downing of a Russian passenger jet in 2015 over Egypt confirmed that security threats to commercial airliners are becoming more sophisticated. HSSEDI is helping the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) create a system that enables TSA to allocate security resources based on a more complete risk picture. The Dynamic Aviation Risk Management System (DARMS) will integrate information from various threat vectors in real time and apply risk-based security algorithms for ongoing determination and assessment of the “risk profile” for each flight.
DARMS will enable security officials to focus their security countermeasures on mitigating threats to high-risk flights while identifying the low-risk majority of flights as suitable for expedited screening of their passengers, baggage, and cargo.
Partners in this Mission
Our anti-terrorism work requires close collaboration with numerous components of DHS. Within HSSEDI’s terrorism-prevention mission, our partners include:
- DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis
- DHS Science & Technology Directorate
- Transportation Security Administration
- National Security Systems Joint Program Management Office
- DHS Joint Fusion Center Program Management Office
Jan. 11, 2008 — Homeland security is one of the hottest issues in this year’s presidential election, the candidates sparring daily over who is best qualified to protect the nation against terrorist threats.
Meanwhile, Leah Beaulieu is busy educating the next generation of security experts. Beaulieu teaches the nation’s first homeland security high school program at Joppatowne High School in Joppa, Md.
Sixty-one Joppatowne 10th-graders enrolled this year to spend three years learning about protecting the country against terrorism.
The sophomores choose specific areas of homeland security that they would like to explore during their junior years. And as seniors, they complete internships or shadow homeland-security professionals on the job.
“We introduce our students to all major areas of homeland security. We start off with a historical perspective, learning where terrorism comes from, the political motivations, even going back to the Crusades and talking about change over time,” said Beaulieu.
The program, which has been lauded by some in law enforcement, educates them on cutting-edge security technology, law enforcement and criminal justice, and teaches them to identify potential chemical and biological threats. Its creators say it will prepare the young students to enter a growing industry that could one day employ thousands of new workers.
But the program has also raised concerns about the appropriateness of teaching such a serious, politically charged subject matter to high school students.
David Volrath, director of secondary education for Maryland’s Hartford County public schools, insists that the school’s main motivation is to help students find future jobs. There are high-tech companies in the area, and the Defense Department’s Aberdeen Proving Ground is nearby.
“When we recognized that these industries were coming to support research at Aberdeen, we realized the opportunity for our students,” he said.
And Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent and president of Clayton Consultants Inc., a global risk crisis management firm, praises the high school for being the first in the nation to take this initiative.
“Those of us in this type of business often get criticized for running around, screaming the sky is falling, [but] we do have to keep the public vigilant,” he said. “This is a very important educational message. If it’s first introduced at the high school level, along the line it will increase people’s professionalism.”
But other observers warn that the the educational message must remain distinct from any political implications.
Jonathan Zimmerman, director of New York University’s History of Education Program, encourages the inclusion of homeland security issues in the school’s curriculum, but he urges the school to make sure it focuses on teaching national security.
“The devil is in the details. Is the school educating or indoctrinating? The job of public schools is not to get people to vote for or against Bush. [Rather] it’s to teach kids the tools to evaluate Bush,” he says.
Doron Pely, vice president of Homeland Security Research in Washington, D.C., says that by the time the students in the program graduate, homeland security will have grown into a $120 billion worldwide industry.
Nevertheless, he is wary of this novel integration of homeland security at the high school level.
“Kids at this age should just have fun,” he said. “Homeland security is not fun. It starts from a paranoid worldview, someone is attacking me and I have to defend myself. I want my son running after girls, not defending himself.”
Frank Mezzanotti, magnet program coordinator for this homeland security program, says the Maryland Emergency Management Administration has invested $275,000 in the program
A large part of the program covers communications technology, which includes GIS software and technologies, Global Positioning System and satellite geo-spatial mapping. Other students specialize in law enforcement and criminal justice.
“The kids are learning what professionals know,” said Beaulieu, who wants students to know how to read satellite images for signs of security threats. “We purchased a software program used professionally all over the country from SPACE STARS. It’s the actual satellite program NASA uses.”
Eddie Hanebuth, from the Department of Labor’s National Standard Geospatial Apprenticeship Program, helped develop the curriculum.
“Students learn that location matters in several areas,” he said. “When faced with limited resources, how do we respond and from which direction? [Students] will cover risk assessment, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. In each area they learn from a demonstration project, then they apply their skills and knowledge to their own community.”
In the law enforcement and criminal justice component of the program, students are taught about the Constitution, criminal law and how laws are enforced. They also learn about criminal evidence collection and how the FBI and CIA operate.
The homeland-security sciences part of the program covers different biological, chemical and radiological threats.
“[Students] basically learn about different threats … how to protect yourself, what does it take to develop a gas mask,” Beaulieu said. “They’re also learning about the research design aspect. Everything we do, we relate it back to homeland security.”
Early recognition and reporting of potential terrorist activities is the first line of defense against attacks. Be aware of what is going on around you. Whether traveling, at work or at home, be on the look out for suspicious activities. The eight signs of terrorism include:
Terrorists target locations where they can leave objects and equipment undetected and unreported. Dim hallways and corners or trash bins that aren’t regularly emptied and maintained can be magnets for unsavory behavior. Take an active part in protecting your community and deterring crime and terrorism.
- Put garbage in trash cans and do not litter.
- Be observant and report any suspicious behavior or unattended items.
- Trash cans need to be emptied.
- Lightbulbs need to be replaced.
- Any other regular maintenance that needs attention.
Our national security is a shared responsibility and we each need to do our part to extend the reach of law enforcement and security personnel. Part of that is maintaining an open flow of communication between you and the transit authorities you ride.
Be receptive to the information shared with you, and be prepared to share information with transit authorities.
Here are a few easy ways to stay connected:
- Most Wanted
- High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group
Protecting the United States from terrorist attacks is the FBI’s number one priority. The Bureau works closely with its partners to neutralize terrorist cells and operatives here in the United States, to help dismantle extremist networks worldwide, and to cut off financing and other forms of support provided to foreign terrorist organizations.
International terrorism: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored).
Domestic terrorism: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.
The Current Threat
The FBI is committed to remaining agile in its approach to the terrorism threat, which has continued to evolve since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Years after these attacks, the threat landscape has expanded considerably, and international terrorism remains a serious threat. The threat of domestic terrorism also remains persistent overall, with actors crossing the line from exercising First Amendment-protected rights to committing crimes in furtherance of violent agendas.
Many factors have contributed to the evolution of the terrorism threat on both the international and domestic fronts, such as:
Lone offenders: Terrorist threats have evolved from large-group conspiracies toward lone-offender attacks. These individuals often radicalize online and mobilize to violence quickly. Without a clear group affiliation or guidance, lone offenders are challenging to identify, investigate, and disrupt. The FBI relies on partnerships and tips from the public to identify and thwart these attacks.
How Citizens Can Protect Themselves and Report Suspicious Activity
It is important for people to protect themselves both online and in-person, and to report any suspicious activity they encounter. The simplest ways to accomplish this are to:
- Remain aware of your surroundings.
- Refrain from oversharing personal information.
- Say something if you see something. The insular nature of today’s violent extremists makes them difficult for law enforcement to identify and disrupt before an attack. Many times, a person’s family or friends may be the first to notice a concerning change in behavior that may indicate a person is mobilizing to violence.
Additional information regarding how to report suspicious activity and protect the community is available via the resources below.
Preventing Terrorist Attack
How You Can Help
This is a message that bears repeating, no matter where you live in the world: Your assistance is needed in preventing terrorist acts.
It’s a fact that certain kinds of activities can indicate terrorist plans that are in the works, especially when they occur at or near high profile sites or places where large numbers of people gather—like government buildings, military facilities, utilities, bus or train stations, major public events. If you see or know about suspicious activities, like the ones listed below, please report them immediately to the proper authorities. In the United States, that means your closest Joint Terrorist Task Force, located in an FBI Field Office. In other countries, that means your closest law enforcement/counterterrorism agency.
Surveillance: Are you aware of anyone video recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps, binoculars, etc., near key facilities/events?
Suspicious Questioning: Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail, email, etc., regarding a key facility or people who work there?
Tests of Security: Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at a key facility/event?
Acquiring Supplies: Are you aware of anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards or identification for a key facility/event or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist attack?
Suspicious Persons: Are you aware of anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment or near a key facility/event?
“Dry Runs”: Have you observed any behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities/events, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, or other suspicious activities?
Deploying Assets: Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials, or persons being deployed near a key facility/event?
If you answered yes to any of the above. if you have observed any suspicious activity that may relate to terrorism. again, please contact the Joint Terrorist Task Force or law enforcement/counterterrorism agency closest to you immediately. Your tip could save the lives of innocent people, just like you and yours.
E ducation is the key that unlocks human potential. For children living in the most disadvantaged and marginalized communities, it provides hope for a better future. But today, in hotspots across the world, education is under threat, with potentially serious consequences for all of us.
In Douma, Syrian civilians continue to live in fear after chemical weapons were dropped on their village in early April, killing at least 42 people. Elsewhere in the eastern Ghouta region, nearly 1,900 children have been killed between February 2014 and January 2015. Barrel bombs have been dropped on schools and hospitals, according to Human Rights Watch, and Syrian boys and girls who are supposed to be doing their homework and studying for tests are struggling to survive.
In February, extremists from Boko Haram stormed into a school in Dapchi, Nigeria, and captured approximately a hundred young girls. The same group captured hundreds of other girls in a raid on the village of Chibok in 2014. Fortunately, most of the Dapchi captives have now been released, but at least a hundred Nigerian girls remain prisoners of Boko Haram. What must be going through the minds of young Nigerian girls as they pack their book bags to go to school? Is it possible to get an education in these conditions?
The international community is failing these children. It is failing the boys and girls of Yemen and Gaza as well. The Charter of the United Nations states that it is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to “ensure international peace and stability.” But there is no peace and stability for these students, and the Security Council appears helpless to intervene on their behalf.
In many parts of the world, young people and children are living lives of hopelessness and despair. A quarter of all school-aged children live in countries devastated by conflict, millions are displaced refugees, and millions more are growing up in communities plagued by poverty. As a result, more than 263 million children and young people are now out of school, 63 million of them of primary school age.
Without an education, they will face a future of thwarted ambitions and broken dreams. They will lack the skills to gain meaningful employment and, out of anger and frustration, some of them will turn to extremism and violence. The sad fact is that terrorism appears to give a twisted sense of purpose and belonging to the desperate and the hopeless. And in communities of the marginalized and disadvantaged, terrorism can spread like a virus.
Education is the world’s vaccine against terrorism.
For more than 20 years I have worked with people and institutions across the world to bring education to children living in favelas in Brazil, refugee camps in Turkey and post-war neighborhoods in Iraq. Through the Education Above All Foundation (EAA), which I created in 2012, my colleagues and I have worked with partner organizations, community groups and government officials to help provide a quality education to boys and girls who might otherwise never see the inside of a classroom. Through EAA’s Educate A Child program, we aim to enroll 10 million of the 63 million primary age out-of-school children and have now received commitments from partner organizations around the world that will allow us to reach this worthy goal.
But this work will never be enough if schools, teachers and students are not shielded from violence. In the past decade, schools in Gaza, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world have been bombed and burned. Teachers have been murdered and students have been recruited as child soldiers. The victims of these terrible tragedies are now coming of age.
What will become of these children when they reach adulthood? What chance do they have of living peaceful and productive lives? How will they resist the dark voices calling them to embrace violence and extremism? Education gives young people the resilience and the critical skills they need to reject hate and violence. It also gives them the most important tool they will need to negotiate their way through a complex and changing world: a rational and prepared mind.
We need to do all we can to ensure that young men and women in the most disadvantaged and marginalized communities are not denied the opportunity to get an education. We must do this for the children, and also for ourselves. If we want to live in a peaceful world, free of the terrorist threat, we need to do more to inoculate our children against extremism.
Maybe the first step toward a saner world is believing in the power of our prayers to help prevent terrorist acts from taking place.
AS THIS ISSUE GOES TO PRESS, the terrorist bombing in Bali and serial sniper shootings in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have been dominating the news. Sentinel contributor Nate Talbot has been praying about what has taken place. Public concern about the terrorism of random violence has prompted him to share ideas on how he prays about violence.
I’ve heard people talk about terrorism as if it were such a complex web of evil that there’s no truly effective way to get at it and stop it. But there is a way that any of us can help stop evil acts from taking place, and I’ll offer some ideas toward that goal. First, though, it might help to consider a news report I heard recently that described one theory of how the 9/11 attacks began.
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It wasn’t that complicated, the theory says. A few leaders in the AlQaeda organization were purportedly talking about a passenger jet that had gone down in the ocean a few years ago. There was speculation about it being a suicide crash. The thought occurred to someone that a suicide plane could fly into a building instead of the ocean. Thus 9/11 was born. Pretty simple. At least if you believe that report.
There has been a lot of talk about how 9/11 could have been averted—more insightful security, more thoughtful and decisive handling of the causes of bitterness toward the United States. But there’s been little public discussion about how to prevent evil thoughts from occurring to people, how to stop those ideas about perpetrating evil from taking shape in someone’s mind.
Is it realistic to attack the problem at this level? Is there a way that we can challenge acts of terrorism—as well as other kinds of evil acts—early on or even nip them in the bud, right at the threshold of thought?
Many people assume that we can find security only by beefing up our defensive might. But I can think of accounts in the Bible where people prayed and their prayers clearly and powerfully altered the actions of those who would have harmed them. What if you were one of the early Christians who were terrorized, thrown into prison, possibly even losing your life because of a guy named Saul? You can bet that those Christians were praying. And their prayers evidently did reach Saul’s thought. Maybe you know the story. Saul became Paul, converted to the very faith he had been fighting, and ended up playing an incredible role in the development of Christianity.
Perhaps the results of prayer won’t always be so dramatic. But Paul’s conversion suggests that specific prayer really can frustrate evil acts. The founder of the Sentinel thought so. I’ve felt Mary Baker Eddy could have been writing directly to this point in her book Science and Health when she insisted, “Evil thoughts, lusts, and malicious purposes cannot go forth, like wandering pollen, from one human mind to another, finding unsuspected lodgment, if virtue and truth build a strong defence” (pp. 234-235).
One dictionary definition of virtue focuses on “moral goodness,” While much of society thinks in terms of a physical kind of defense, we may all discover that the “moral goodness” of a people is the strongest and truly the most enduring protection. Integrity, compassion, innocence and purity, spiritual affection and strength, peace—we might call them “virtue values.”
I used to think that building this strong defense meant I needed to cultivate these values in my own life. But in thinking about St. Paul’s life, I’ve broadened my prayers to affirm that everyone—especially someone who may not have nurtured those virtue values—is receptive to the Christ, or God’s messages. Everyone can receive thoughts of the Christ instead of the random pollen of “evil purposes.”
Once when my wife and I had to deal with some continuing acts of minor theft in our neighborhood, I considered these ideas in prayer, and the acts abruptly stopped. If the principle is true in a little incident like this—or in a major event like Paul’s life—why couldn’t the collective force of our prayers today actually make a difference in what appear to be either random acts of evil, serial crimes, or well-planned acts of global terrorism? Maybe they really aren’t too complex to confront. They all start with some bad thought knocking on someone’s mental door.
You and I can begin more fully developing the light of these virtue values as we go about our days. And we can affirm that God is present and powerful right within the hearts and minds of those who may appear more vulnerable and receptive to the darkness of evil or extremism.
All of God’s children deserve to be seen and acknowledged as responsive to wholesome, virtuous, spiritual qualities.
All of God’s children deserve to be seen and acknowledged as responsive to wholesome, virtuous, spiritual qualities. This is the truth of everyone’s real Spirit-derived nature. Virtue and truth—that’s a powerful combination. It might be worth considering the following Bible verse as a daily promise, and through prayer insisting that this promise will reach and take root in every individual’s consciousness: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil . . .” (Jer. 29:11). Thoughts of peace. Thoughts of good. Thoughts of love.
Those thoughts, if empowered in consciousness by a God who is only and infinitely good, will increasingly prevail in each person’s mind. Making a difference for good begins with valuing our right—and the rights of others—to be influenced by these virtue values.
About the author
Nate Talbot is a Christian Science teacher and healer. He lives near Boise, Idaho.
The picture of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance after his house in Syria was bombed reminds me of my childhood in Tehran in the early 1980s during the vicious Iran-Iraq war. Saddam Hussein dropped bombs on our city every night, demolishing homes and leaving tens of thousands dead and injured.
The shocked look on Omran’s face makes me cringe with memories of fear and rage. The moment the bomb goes off is also the moment that throws many youth on the path to war and militancy. It is the moment that the innocence of youth is replaced by hate and anger.
Omran lost his ten-year-old brother in that bombing campaign allegedly carried out by a foreign military.
We don’t need to look far to see into Omran’s future. He will most likely end up poverty stricken and deprived of education and opportunity.
While walking through the rubble of his city of Aleppo, he will almost certainly be approached by young men who have experienced his pain. Men who will try to recruit Omran to their war against foreigners who have carved up and demolished their homes for a century.
Just weeks after the bombing of Omran’s house, another child carried out a suicide bombing in Turkey along the Syrian border that killed dozens at a wedding ceremony. And Syrian children, propped up for a chilling propaganda video, executed prisoners of war with advanced, foreign made hand guns.
To stop this rage, the U.S. and Russia must stop shocking Middle Eastern youth with bombing campaigns. They must stop their arms sales. They must end their support of dictators and autocrats. And they must close their military bases in the region.
All we need to do is look to Iran. It is the only Middle Eastern nation without foreign military bases on its land, and consequently, it is the only country in the region without a single citizen as a member of ISIS or Al Qaeda.
After thirty-seven years of self-determination, Iranians are instead reforming their government to engage America in positive relations. While there are still challenges ahead, the Iran nuclear deal, a mandate of the Iranian people, has empowered a relatively moderate Iranian government.
But before the 1979 Iranian Revolution – when American military interests dominated Iran’s government – ordinary Iranians suffered from a lack of national sovereignty. This made millions of under-educated young men susceptible to a militant interpretation of religion that was peddled by power-hungry clergy promising independence.
Today, the same tragedy is playing out across Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where America’s military power, in one form or another, can be felt. Poverty and lack of education is rampant in these countries, while U.S. arms sales, and the presence of U.S. military bases are fueling violence.
And as in 1979 Iran, these countries are brimming with dissatisfied children that are turning to religious fanatics who preach independence through war and “jihad” against America.
To help stop this recruitment, America must end its military presence in the Middle East. The option of a drawdown exit is unachievable. The majority of the population does not trust foreign military forces posted in their region. Nothing in U.S. or Russian arsenals can out-fight or outlast the will of the masses.
Many political analysts have argued that an immediate U.S. or Russian exit would leave a bloody and rocky transition. But as we have witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the transition will be bloody and rocky no matter when a foreign power leaves. Therefore, the first step toward democracy in the region is for unelected foreign powers to leave the Middle East.
Ending foreign military presence in the region is not only a benefit to Middle Easterners, but also to the world. As evidence, the Iranian people have not carried out a single terror attack inside the U.S. homeland since the 1979 closure of U.S. bases in Iran. Instead, they are warming up to the potential of fair economic and cultural exchanges with the U.S.
By ending the failed military interventions and policies in the Middle East – and instead opening up trade opportunities – millions of children like Omran can chart a different path in life, one with fewer bombs and more books.
And above all, these children need to heal. That healing can only start when foreign armies take the first step and exit the region.
How The NSA Uses Metadata To Fight Terrorism
Robert Siegel talks with Kirk Wiebe, retired intelligence National Security Agency analyst, about metadata and how the NSA uses it as a counterterrorism tool.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Now to news – first reported by the Guardian – that the National Security Agency is collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. citizens. The Guardian obtained a copy of a secret order requesting the records from the big telecom company Verizon. We’re going to focus now on what exactly this kind of metadata, as it’s called, includes and what intelligence agencies can learn from it. And joining me is J. Kirk Wiebe. He worked for the NSA as an intelligence analyst for more than three decades and helped pioneer the way the agency collects and analyzes electronic information. Welcome.
J. KIRK WIEBE: Thank you.
SIEGEL: To be clear, we’re not talking in this case about listening to phone calls. This isn’t wiretapping. What kind of information are we talking about here?
WIEBE: Well, it’s really what you see when you get a phone bill. And as you know, when you get a phone bill, you can request specific detailed information about all the calls you made, to the numbers they went to, when they were made down to the minute. This goes even beyond that.
SIEGEL: Well, you could do lots of things – or at least a few things with all that information in the database. One, if you have somebody who’s a suspect out there and has a phone number, you could find out if my phone logs ever show that I connected with his phone.
WIEBE: Absolutely. And that’s how the system would basically work. You would stash the data in a database, and an analyst, presumably based on a tip-off, would then query the data to find out with whom you had been in communication. And that includes pager data, texting data, not just actual voice phone calls.
SIEGEL: Well, that part I get. But I gather there’s another dimension which is looking for broad patterns of calls.
SIEGEL: This is serious? You can really infer things from big patterns of calls?
WIEBE: Absolutely. There’s a science, if you will, of intelligence called traffic analysis. It’s concerned with communications and looking for patterns in communications that can be associated with meaning that’s useful to get some insight in what someone’s intentions are.
SIEGEL: But if I understand this properly, I mean, what the NSA seems to be doing here is they’re deciding that in order to find the one dangerous needle, they must have access to the entire haystack.
SIEGEL: And there’s no way that you could do some kind of predetermination of what part of the haystack you should be looking at?
SIEGEL: You have to have access to everybody’s phone logs or else it doesn’t work.
WIEBE: That’s right. And I would actually – while I might be viewed as an adversary of the NSA because I’m a whistleblower.
SIEGEL: You’re a whistleblower, yeah.
WIEBE: . I actually agree with the concept, much like a writer writes a book. If I only get one or two chapters of the book, I can appreciate what the book represents. It’s always the endeavor of the intelligence analyst to find out as much about a target or an entity as possible to raise the confidence level of a finding.
SIEGEL: But I want you to answer this question that I and I think other Americans might have of the intelligence agencies, which is: what I say in a phone call, I presume to be private. We’ve now reached a point where whatever number I dial or how long I remain in contact with that number, I should have no expectation of privacy about that. The government has a routine court order that recycles saying, we can look at that.
WIEBE: Yes, yes. And I disagree with the government’s interpretation completely. We can go back into constitution law, but I think all of us were brought up believing that the Fourth Amendment was a pretty good amendment, and it was worded in the way that it is for a reason.
SIEGEL: Limiting search and seize.
WIEBE: Yes. Now, unfortunately, people like the former director of NSA, Michael Hayden, and others have recast the Fourth Amendment from one that is based on probable cause in presenting evidence for subsequent invasion of privacy to one of reasonable suspicion. That phrase has not been defined except by some managers controlling this information about you and me. And that’s what I find wrong. We have not had the public discussion or agreement by the American people to define what that means and what the ramifications of that are in terms of the government’s ability to view into our private lives.
SIEGEL: Mr. Wiebe, thanks a lot for talking with us.
WIEBE: My pleasure.
SIEGEL: That’s J. Kirk Wiebe, for many years an intelligence analyst at the National Security Agency.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
As a professional security expert, I am often asked how to prevent a terrorist bombings, active shooters, and other terrorist attacks. The key to stopping a terrorist attack before it happens two fold. disrupting it in the planning process and hardening a target. Terrorist attacks don’t just materialize over night. The planning process, depending on how intricate the attack is, may last weeks, months or even years! It is universally accepted terrorists move through the pre-incident indicators of terrorism to plan and deploy an attack. In order to prevent a terrorist bombing, much like Boston’s Marathon attack, law enforcement needs to work with information provided by an educated public.
The first step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack is recognizing surveillance. Recognizing surveillance is distinguishing between a tourist and someone looking at the physical security of a site, traffic patterns, or how an event is being set up and executed. The number one line of defense is the public needs to notify law enforcement of people and/or their actions that seem out of place.
The second step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack is understanding how terrorists use elicitation to extract information. They speak with anybody with insider knowledge about a potential target. It could be a front desk person at a hotel, a facilities manager or a janitor. The purpose of elicitation is to obtain information that cannot be found elsewhere. It may include shift changes, policies and procedures, or even something as simple as asking when things are busiest.
The third step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack is stopping tests of security. A test of security is not a dry run or a trial run. A test of security is designed to observe response time, see how far someone can go in to a restricted area, or to obtain information on procedures. A terrorist successfully testing security means they can now start to put their plan in to motion.
The fourth step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack is by minimizing funding of terrorist operations. Being a terrorist is expensive. They have to pay for a base of operations, food, equipment, transportation, etc. Typically, terrorists are involved in fraud, theft narcotics or other prevalent crime. If you witness a large transaction done in all cash or gift cards, that could be a sign of a potential terrorist attack being planned.
The fifth step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack stopping terrorist from acquiring supplies. Typically, retailers must pay special attention to their employees’ training. Something as simple as seeing an unusual group of supplies or chemicals being sold and asking them to wait for a manager may do the trick.
The sixth step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack is recognizing suspicious persons. If the presence of an individual seems out of place, report it law enforcement.
The seventh step in how to prevent a terrorist bombing attack stopping it during a dry run. If a dry run is successful, terrorists may then be fully prepared to carry out a terrorist attack.
It is important to remember that anything or anybody that seems out of place, no matter how potentially in-significant, should be reported to law enforcement. For more information on pre-incident indicator training, visit www.infragardlosangeles.org
Jeff Zisner is President & CEO of AEGIS Security & Investigations, a Certified Protection Professional, an 8 year veteran of the industry and Commercial Facilities Sector Coordinator for the FBI’s Infragard Members Alliance of Los Angeles. AEGIS services clients in Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego County.
Governments and police forces around the world need to beware of the harm caused by mass and social media following terror events. In a new report, leading counter-terrorism experts from around the world – including Michigan State University faculty – offer guidance to authorities to better manage the impacts of terror attacks by harnessing media communication.
“With social media, not only is the information immediate, but the public’s access to information and conversations shape how an event is talked about,” said Steven Chermak, MSU professor of criminal justice report contributor. “This can be dangerous when we can’t discern fact from a panicked reaction.”
The report, Minutes to Months, or M2M, assessed terror attacks in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, with expertise from MSU, Western University in Canada, University of New South Wales, Sydney, and was spearheaded by Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute, or CSRI.
By reviewing all the published research on the role of media and social media in the wake of terror attacks, together with detailed case studies of specific incidents, M2M reveals insights on how media and social media coverage can increase the public harms of terrorism, and what works to mitigate such effects.
The M2M report provides recommendations to help authorities develop and execute strategies to manage the online fallout from a terrorist incident. The work was commissioned by the Five Country Ministerial Countering Extremism Working Group, which includes the governments of the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The research team found that terrorist attacks create shockwaves after the initial incident, as a wide range of voices compete through mainstream and social media. In fact, M2M found that communications after a terrorist incident often lead to a spike in hate crimes, extremism, and prompt damaging disinformation and rumors.
“People only know what they see or read, so the immediate panic social media – and then on the news – perpetuates rumors and creates fear. This is exactly what terrorists want,” Chermak said. “The ongoing news in the days and weeks following attacks – and opinions and emotions through media – can continue the terror cycle.”
Governments, police and others involved in public safety need to be ready to offer accurate, regular information to minimise negative fallout, the researchers said.
Terrorist violence, as the report explained, is intended to elicit intense and vivid reactions. Thus, by neglecting how to manage post-event situations is a current weak point in many governmental counter-terrorism frameworks.
The increasing volume of communication channels allows different groups to voice alternative interpretations of the same event, causing multiple narratives and accounts circulating in the post-event environment.
Martin Innes, director of the CSRI and lead author of M2M, recently issued a report that identified the systematic use of fake social media accounts spreading disinformation. The accounts, linked to Russia, amplified the public impacts of the four terrorist attacks that took place in the UK in 2017: Westminster Bridge, Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.
“Over the past five years or so, both the mechanics and dynamics of terrorism and how it is reported via media sources, have altered dramatically,” Innes said. “Over the same period, the logics of media and the information environment have been fundamentally transformed.”
Because of these changes Innes believes that changing communication is the key to the post-attack wake of terror.
“Taking a pragmatic view, that despite the best efforts of police and security services, not all future plots will be prevented, developing an understanding of how any harms can be mitigated is an important undertaking.”
Post-doctoral researcher in linguistics, Lancaster University
Sheryl Prentice has previously received government funding for PhD research.
Lancaster University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.
The internet has become a weapon for terrorists, who use social media and other technologies to organise, recruit and spread propaganda. So is it possible to turn technology around and use it to not only catch terrorists but predict and potentially stop terror attacks before they happen?
One thing we can do is use technology to search for patterns in the activity and language of terrorists and their supporters online. If we can spot trends that typically occur in the run up to an attack, it may be possible to automatically identify when future acts of violence are being planned. In a new study, researchers from Harvard University attempted to do just this. They used computer simulations to show how unofficial groups of online Islamic State (IS) supporters spread and grow through social networking sites and how this relates to the timing of violent attacks.
This follows research into how messages on Twitter can be classified to predict whether someone will support or oppose IS. Other researchers have used data-mining techniques on social media data to try to work out when supporters “begin to adopt pro-IS behaviour”.
And others have used text analysis software to show that language patterns used by certain extremist groups differ in the months leading up to a violent attack. For example, the language may show less cognitive complexity – a more simplistic way of viewing the word – if it uses less complex structures, with more short words or sentences.
My own research with Paul J Taylor and Paul Rayson at Lancaster University has used linguistic software to detect patterns in the language used by various Islamic extremist groups and narrow down potential clues in a message. Using the method of collocation, which measures the strength of association between words or between a word and a concept, we showed you could automatically establish whether extremists’ messages were portraying people or places positively or negatively. For example, some personal names were significantly associated with the negative term “agentry” (referring to people acting as enemy agents), while others were significantly associated with the positive term “heroic”.
This method could indicate potential terrorist targets by highlighting people or places to which violence or contempt is felt. For example, we might find that the terms “target”, “targeting”, “attack” or “kill” were strongly associated with the name of a particular place, person, or organisation. We could then look at the context of where and how these words were used in the text to work out if they suggested that person, place, or organisation may be in danger.
However, the limitation of this sort of approach is that it excludes attacks that may have happened without this kind of online build up. Each of these studies focuses only on a small aspect of the wider ecosystem of terrorism. So unless we can show that these patterns occur in all types of terror-related situations, we have to be careful not to exaggerate their importance and remember that other factors including political and personal situations can drive acts of violence.
Terrorists’ online communications are only part of the picture. We also have ways of studying terrorists’ offline communicative behaviours by measuring levels of stress or anxiety, or detecting patterns associated with deceit. For example, we can use sensors, infrared scanners and brain imaging technologies such as fMRI to monitor changes in the body or track people’s face, body or eye movements. Some argue that if we deployed this kind of technology in airport security, it might alert us to those intending to carry out an attack.
In 2002, researchers at Honeywell Laboratories in the US showed how thermal imaging technology could identify a heat pattern that occurs around the eyes when people try to deceive someone. They suggested this technique could be used to rapidly screen air travellers during pre-flight interviews “without the need for skilled staff”.
But such a system wouldn’t be foolproof. There are a number of reasons why an individual may be anxious at an airport, which may have nothing to do with attempts to deceive airline staff. Perhaps they have a fear of flying. These technologies are not 100% accurate. They tend to be tested in lab-based environments and trained on fake attempts to deceive rather than in real-life situations.
Some argue that technology does not have three vital qualities that humans possess: experience, values and judgement. This means that machines may miss something that only a human could detect.
So while technology offers exciting possibilities for tracking terrorist communications and predicting attacks, it isn’t a replacement for human judgement and should be used with caution.
- 1 Department of Psychology, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4620, USA. [email protected]
- PMID: 16094636
- DOI: 10.1002/bsl.652
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- 1 Department of Psychology, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4620, USA. [email protected]
- PMID: 16094636
- DOI: 10.1002/bsl.652
Terrorism has a long history, which continues to unfold, and takes many forms. Notwithstanding these facts, there is no generally accepted definition of terrorism. I set forth the definitional issues that underlie the current debate about terrorism. By comparing terrorism with various forms of violence, I argue that it is plausible to construe terrorism as crime and, in support of this, I demonstrate why terrorism cannot be morally justified. Next, I cluster various immediate and long-term approaches intended to prevent terrorism, highlighting psychologically based strategies, such as behavioral profiling, teaching tolerance and citizenship, modifying media images of terrorism, and building peace. In order to understand and respond more effectively to 21st-century terrorism, I advocate adoption of a multidisciplinary, contextually sensitive approach.
Тесhnоlоgу саn bе usеd tо рrеvеnt tеrrоrіsm іn vаrіоus wауs. Оnе оf thеm іs dаtа shаrіng. Наvіng ассеss tо vаrіоus сrіmіnаl rесоrds аnd іntеllіgеnсе dаtа frоm dіffеrеnt fеdеrаl, lосаl аnd stаtе аgеnсіеs саn hеlр аuthоrіtіеs tо bе рrоасtіvе аbоut іdеntіfуіng tеrrоrіsts аnd роssіblе соnnесtіоns bеtwееn ехіstіng еvіdеnсе (Наm аnd Аtkіnsоn). Smаrt Саrds thаt hаvе bіоmеtrіс іdеntіfіеrs lіkе thumbрrіnt dаtа аnd аnу оthеr bіоmеtrіс dаtа саn bе usеd аs drіvеr’s lісеnsеs tо рrеvеnt fоrgеrу, frаud оr аnу оthеr mіshар frоm оссurrіng.
Smаrt vіsаs mау аlsо bе еmрlоуеd іn а sіmіlаr wау bу іnсоrроrаtіng bіоmеtrіс іnfоrmаtіоn іntо vіsаs tо іdеntіfу vіsіtоrs, tеrms оf еntrу аnd fасіlіtаtе рrоасtіvіtу іn thе fіght аgаіnst tеrrоrіsm. Тhе usе оf dіgіtаl survеіllаnсе саn bе аррlіеd tо еmаіls аnd оthеr fоrms оf еlесtrоnіс dаtа. Тhе usе оf Survеіllаnсе саmеrаs аnd fасіаl rесоgnіtіоn tесhnоlоgу аrе аlsо usеd tо іdеntіfу knоwn tеrrоrіsts (Наm аnd Аtkіnsоn). Тhе fіght аgаіnst tеrrоrіsm іs а glоbаl оnе аnd соuntrіеs shоuld соmе tоgеthеr tо mаkе іt hарреn. Тhе Меdіа Меdіа tесhnоlоgу іs а bіt sіmіlаr tо survеіllаnсе tесhnоlоgу.
Іt еntаіls thе usе оf vіdео, аudіо аnd оthеr соmрutеr-bаsеd еquірmеnt tо gаthеr, mаіntаіn аnd dіstrіbutе іnfоrmаtіоn tо thе рорulаtіоn. Меdіа fоrсеs саn аlsо bе usеd tо реrfоrm survеіllаnсе аnd kеер trасk оf tеrrоrіst асtіvіtіеs tо еnsurе thаt thе реорlе аrе іnfоrmеd аnd соnsсіоus оf thе асtіvіtіеs оf tеrrоrіsts (Сlаrksоn). Моst tеrrоrіst асtіvіtіеs dереnd оn mеdіа. Rероrts shоw thаt tеrrоrіsts аrе оftеn mоtіvаtеd bу thе nееd tо mаkе реорlе аwаrе оf thеіr асtіvіtіеs іn а bіd tо gаrnеr fеаr, аdmіrаtіоn аnd suрроrt. Тhе mеdіа рlауs а kеу rоlе іn асhіеvіng thіs. Ноw Теrrоrіsts саn usе Тесhnоlоgу tо Соmmіt Наvос
Тhеrе аrе numеrоus wауs іn whісh Теrrоrіsts аlsо еmрlоу thе usе оf tесhnоlоgу tо stау аhеаd оf thе роlісе. Fоr ехаmрlе, Моbіlе tесhnоlоgу іs usеd tо stау оnе stер аhеаd оf thе роlісе. Тhіs іs іllustrаtеd bу thе Теrrоrіst Аttасks аt Мumbаі іn Nоvеmbеr, 2008. Теrrоrіsts соuld usе ВlасkВеrrуs tо mоnіtоr іntеrnаtіоnаl rеасtіоn аnd асtіоns tо thе аtrосіtіеs. Тhеу соuld gеt suffісіеnt іnfоrmаtіоn frоm thе іntеrnеt whіlе hоldіng hоstаgеs іn а раrtісulаr lосаtіоn. Тhіs іnfоrmаtіоn іs аlwауs usеful іn рlаnnіng thеіr nехt mоvе (Quееnslаnd Nеwsрареrs). Теrrоrіsts аlsо usе thе wеb fоr соmmunісаtіоn аnd sеndіng еnсrурtеd іnfоrmаtіоn vіа numеrоus sіtеs.
Тhе wеb іs оftеn usеd bу tеrrоrіsts аs а sоurсе оf іnfоrmаtіоn ехсhаngе аnd а рlаtfоrm fоr рlаnnіng соnsріrасіеs (Lуmаn). Тhе рrоblеm іs thаt thе wеb іs аnуwhеrе аnd еvеrуwhеrе аnd thеrе’s nо rеаl wау оf tеllіng thе оrіgіn оf thе mеssаgеs dіsсоvеrеd bу іntеllіgеnсе аuthоrіtіеs. Тhе аrt оf stеnоgrарhу, whісh іnvоlvеs іnsеrtіng еnсrурtеd mеssаgеs іntо еlесtrоnіс fіlеs, іs аlsо соmmоnрlасе wіth tеrrоrіsts (Lуmаn). А rесеnt rероrt shоws thаt tеrrоrіsts hаvе stаrtеd рuttіng іmаgеs аnd mарs оf thеіr tаrgеts оn fоrums, сhаt rооms аnd dіffеrеnt wеbsіtеs (Lуmаn).
Тhе US Аrmу іntеllіgеnсе bеlіеvеs thаt tеrrоrіsts аrе еmрlоуіng thе usе оf wеb-tо-mоbіlе рhоnе tесhnоlоgіеs аnd vісе-vеrsа іn рlаnnіng аnd сооrdіnаtіng thеіr аttасks. Тhеу аlsо еmрlоу thе usе оf Vоісе оvеr іntеrnеt Рrоtосоl (VоІР) fоr thе ехсhаngе оf іnfоrmаtіоn. Оthеr tесhnоlоgіеs thаt mау bе ехрlоіtеd bу thеsе tеrrоrіsts іnсludе thе usе оf mоbіlе рhоnеs аs glоbаl роsіtіоnіng sуstеms, thе usе оf mоbіlе рhоnеs аs survеіllаnсе tооls, thе usе оf vоісе аltеrіng sоftwаrе tо mаkе рhоnе саlls аnd sо оn (Наrwооd). Sосіаl nеtwоrkіng sіtеs lіkе Тwіttеr аnd Fасеbооk mау аlsо bе mіsusеd bу thеsе tеrrоrіsts.
Тhеsе nеtwоrks mау bе usеd tо іnсіtе реорlе оf lіkе mіnds аnd gаrnеr suрроrt. GРS-еnаblеd сеll рhоnеs саn bе usеd bу tеrrоrіsts tо mаkе thеіr trаvеl рlаns, survеу tаrgеt аrеаs аnd fіnd оut rеlеvаnt іnfоrmаtіоn nесеssаrу fоr thеіr аttасks. Моst Моbіlе рhоnеs hаvе саmеrа аnd vіdео rесоrdіng funсtіоns thаt саn аllоw thеm tо сарturе thеіr асts bу саmеrа аnd vіdео. Whеn mаkіng саlls vіа VоІР, thеіr vоісеs саn bе еаsіlу dіsguіsеd thrоugh thе usе оf vоісе сhаngіng sоftwаrе аnd саllеr ІD sрооfіng, tо mаkе dеtесtіоn dіffісult. Gооglе еаrth hаs аlsо bееn іdеntіfіеd аs а tооl thаt fасіlіtаtеs thе sрrеаd оf tеrrоrіsm. Тhе роssіbіlіtіеs аrе еndlеss.
Social media companies may turn to artificial intelligence to monitor video content.
Challenges of Combating Terrorism
On the Sunday following the UK terrorist attack on London Bridge, British Prime Minister Teresa May leveled a portion of the blame at social media sites in a televised address, saying “We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet — and the big companies that provide internet-based services — provide.”
It is the latest blow in a long spar between civil institutions and privately owned social media companies. Three lawsuits have been filed against social media giants in the last year by the families of the victims of Pulse Nightclub in Florida, the events in Paris in November 2015, and the San Bernadino attack in December 2015. But even when social media outlets take on the responsibility of combating terrorism-inciting content, they face many challenges.
First, the problem of the content’s form — which is usually video. There have been successful auto-content blockers developed for photographs, but video poses an entirely new problem. While photos could be relatively easily scanned, videos contain hundreds of individual frames, which makes scanning them far harder.
The quantity of these videos is also daunting. On Facebook alone, around 100 million hours of video are watched daily, which is a huge amount to moderate. The problem is amplified by copies and shares, all of which can be reposted even if the original is removed. If there is no adequate software solution for monitoring these videos, the becomes an almost impossible feat — requiring humans to look for virtual needles in the some of the biggest data haystacks the world has ever known.
On top of this, social media companies must also balance safety against privacy and human rights. A press release from Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube in December, 2016, reiterated their commitment “to prevent the spread of terrorist content online while respecting human rights.” This shows the tension between moderation and surveillance — where does the line lie between “terrorist content” and free speech? And how many of our civil liberties concerning privacy are we willing to sacrifice for the unguaranteed promise of being safer?
This is complicated further by company policies of free speech and documentation. Youtube’s policy states that they permit media “intended to document events connected to terrorist acts or news reporting on terrorist activities” as long as those clips include “sufficient context and intent.” This creates a thin line that automated software would find extremely difficult to traverse, even if sufficient video filtering software was developed.
New War, New Weapons
In order to save countless lives from terrorist attacks, which are becoming ever more frequent, new tools must be developed. But for now, the strongest tool we have against terrorist content online is our own diligence. While Mark Zuckerberg is hiring 3,000 people to find and block violent videos, managing such a large amount of content is only possible with the support of an equally large community that will report terrorist content.
Marking tools are also being developed to tackle problem of terrorists using the video format. The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has developed eGLYPH, which finds the unique signature for each video or video segment called a “hash” and then reports any usage it finds during scans to the relevant moderator.
The most comprehensive of these databases is CEP’s own. Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, though, have refused the free database access and free use of the eGLYPH tool, choosing instead to form their own consortium. But any development made here will not apply to live-streamed video, which creates content real-time and so could not be mitigated by any database. This has already become a reality with the case of the terrorist Larossi Abballa.
In the near future, we may have artificial intelligence managing the process. Zuckerberg claimed in a letter that Facebook is working on algorithms that would be able to “tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda,” as well as identify other inappropriate content. While Google’s AI and Microsoft’s and Elon Musk’s OpenAI may be used in a similar manner, no official announcement has been made yet.
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Just How Can Authorities Avoid assaults?
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Australian and Internal plan
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Crowds and also Media
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Perhaps not safety, However planning
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A former CIA deputy director told PBS NewsHour Weekend on Saturday that a major concern for the U.S. is the possibility of radicalized young men with EU or American passports entering the country to carry out terrorist attacks like those committed in France this past week. Humera Khan, executive director of the anti-terrorism think tank Muflehun, joins Hari Sreenivasan to talk about what’s being done to combat terrorist organization recruitment.
Read the Full Transcript
Yesterday, the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency told us one of his biggest concerns is radicalized young men with E.U. or American passports entering the U.S. to commit terrorist acts like the ones in France this past week.
That got us thinking. What’s being to done to prevent them from being radicalized in the first place?
For more about that, we are joined now from Washington by Humera Khan. She’s the executive director of Muflehun, a think tank whose mission is to thwart terrorism. She’s also an adviser to several government agencies, including the FBI.
So what can be done to prevent the radicalization in the first place?
HUMERA KHAN, Executive Director, Muflehun:
Well, for prevention, one of the most important things you have to deal with is raising awareness.
People need to know what they’re up against and actually raise barriers the to entry, so you don’t have youth actually wanting to engage in it in the first place.
For those people who are not caught through prevention, right, that they are — they have somehow already gone down the track, you actually have to start talking about interventions.
And that is the case where someone has been exposed to the ideas, has not committed any criminal activity yet, right? So, they’re not mobilized toward criminal activity.
And then you actually have to have an intervention to stop them from going off to fight and committing an act of terrorism, and then actually really work with them specifically.
And that’s an individual process to get them to disengage from their thoughts psychologically, as well as from the actions.
So, what kind of interventions are you talking about? Do you have families, do you have members of the community intervening? What do they do?
The spectrum. It actually depends on the case.
And intervention models have — are different depending on the country and also the neighborhood you’re talking about.
So, for example, in the U.S., we actually have models where you’re running it through imams, right? The actual clergy themselves are engaged with providing counseling.
And the counseling is not just for the individual, but also for family members, because, sometimes, in some cases, you actually have family dysfunction.
In other countries, you actually have intervention programs which are run through family — the actual family itself. Others are run through different community centers, anyone who can actually have a trusted relationship with the person.
There is an element of trust and there is an element of legitimacy, in terms of what they’re saying. That person can do it. It could be a youth director.
It could be a mentor. It could be — there’s a lot of options available. It just depends on the case.
This isn’t a process — a process that happens overnight. I mean, many of these individuals, you hear about them for year after year kind of walking down that path.
So, how do you intervene at just the right time?
Well, interventions are something which, the earlier you do it, the better off you are, because the further along that you leave someone and the ideas are developing without any check or balance or even a counterargument, the harder it is to pull them back.
So, in the first times when you are actually seeing something shifting, the behavior is changing, their opinions are shifting, that’s the place, that’s ideal place that you want to do it, before you have to — because once the ideas are set, it is a lot harder to try and deconstruct them.
So, how do you combat, for example, the influence of social media these days, right?
Is it possible to keep someone from watching YouTube videos of speeches that might be preaching something or joining a hashtag and celebrating a specific attack?
Well, social media is used to recruit, which also means that social media has the power to be used for an intervention to actually pull people back.
That, in itself, is not enough, right? A hashtag is not — never going to be enough to change a person’s mind. It’s what else happens.
And social media is — is actually a very interactive platform. And we have to use that interactivity across the full spectrum of — of tools out there to actually engage people to change their ideas.
All right, Humera Khan of Muflehun, thanks so much for joining us.
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According to a 2020 Verizon report, 86% of global data breaches are financially motivated. Now more than ever, individuals and businesses must proactively maintain their cybersecurity because the cost of a cyberattack can run well into the millions — a price few are able or willing to pay.
To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by Maryville University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity program.
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Businesses large and small should be aware of the top 10 cybersecurity vulnerabilities and take steps to protect themselves from the high cost of a data breach.
The rise of cybercrime
Cybercrime is expensive. The average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, with the global annual cost of cybercrime estimated to reach $6 trillion by 2021. Phishing attacks, for example, steal a jaw-dropping $17,700 per minute.
Hackers use a variety of techniques, but trends are revealing which tactics they prefer. Six out of 10 breaches involve vulnerabilities for which a patch was created but not applied, while 45% of reported breaches involve hacking and 94% of malware is delivered by email.
In the first half of 2019, attacks on internet of things (IoT) devices tripled and fileless attacks increased by 265%.
Organizations of all sizes are being affected by data breaches, with 63% of companies saying their data may have been compromised by a hardware-level security breach within the past 12 months. Some 40% of information technology (IT) leaders say cybersecurity positions are the most difficult to fill.
Top 10 cybersecurity vulnerabilities
Businesses should be aware of the most common cybersecurity vulnerabilities; these include legacy software, default configuration, lack of encryption, remote access policies (backdoor access), gaps in policies and procedures, lack of network segmentation, unpatched security weaknesses, unprotected web applications, unrestricted user account access, and unknown programming bugs.
Common types of cyberattacks
Though cybercrime methods and techniques continue to grow in sophistication, hackers still use seven basic types of cyberattacks.
7 types of cyberattacks
During a malware attack, a hacker sends a dangerous link or email attachment that, when clicked, installs software that can block access to key network components, install malware or other types of destructive software, access the hard drive to transmit and collect data, and disrupt components to make the system inoperable.
A phishing attack involves sending communication, usually through email, that impersonates a reputable source. The goals of this attack may be to steal sensitive data, such as login information and credit card details, and to install malware.
A man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack occurs when a hacker infiltrates a two-party transaction with the intent to filter and steal data. Common entry points for this type of attack include unsecure public Wi-Fi and software installed on a victim’s device.
During a denial-of-service attack, a bad actor floods servers, systems, or networks with traffic to clog bandwidth and cripple the system. This type of attack may use multiple compromised devices in a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
An SQL injection involves inserting malicious code into a server using structured query language (SQL) to force the server to reveal sensitive information. The cybercriminal may enter malicious code into a website search box to carry out this type of attack.
A zero-day exploit attack involves targeting a disclosed vulnerability before a solution or patch has been implemented. Organizations that fail to act quickly may find themselves the target of this type of attack.
DNS tunneling occurs when a bad actor sends HTTP and other protocol traffic over the domain name system (DNS) to mask outbound traffic as DNS and hide data that is typically shared through a secure internet connection; acquire data from a compromised system; and send commands to a compromised system and obtain information.
5 emerging cybersecurity threats
Deepfakes and deepfake voice technology use artificial intelligence technology to create an image, video, or sound that appears real. The dangers of this threat include incriminating individuals of actions or statements they have not made.
A similar cybersecurity threat is the mixing of real and fabricated credentials to create a synthetic identity. For example, the identity may have a legitimate physical address but a birthdate and Social Security number unassociated with the address.
AI-powered cyberattacks use artificial intelligence to create programs that mimic human behavior.
When successful, this type of attack can trick individuals into disclosing personal or financial information.
Vehicle cyberattacks may involve accessing vehicles to steal personal data, track an individual’s location, obtain driving histories, or take over or disable safety functions.
Cybercriminals may also engage in cloud jacking by infiltrating systems and programs of businesses that use cloud storage to use these resources for cryptocurrency mining.
Tips for protecting yourself from cyberattacks
Individuals and organizations can take simple steps to prevent data breaches and keep their information secure.
5 cybersecurity tips for individuals
The first and most basic step in maintaining cybersecurity is to create a unique and original password for each account. Users should also remember to update passwords every three months.
Keeping up with software updates is important, as cybercriminals often target known flaws in software to access a user’s system.
Cybercriminals may comb through social media posts in search of information commonly used in security questions, such as a pet’s name or mother’s maiden name. To combat this risk, social media users should set their account to private or avoid revealing sensitive information in posts.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to protect sensitive data, especially when accessing a public Wi-Fi network. A VPN encrypts all information transmitted by your device and helps prevent many types of cyberattacks.
And finally, teachers and parents should educate children about proper internet usage. Children and teens should know what the rules and guidelines are for surfing the internet and using social media.
5 cybersecurity tips for organizations
To protect business data, it’s important to secure hardware, back up and encrypt data, invest in cybersecurity insurance, promote a security-focused culture, and use robust cybersecurity software. Taking these steps will help reduce risk and keep the business operating without interruption.
Prevention is the key to reducing the risk of a data breach. By investing in cybersecurity software, using a VPN, and being aware of common attack methods, individuals and organizations can deter hackers and keep their data private.
It would be nice if there were a silver bullet. There isn’t, of course, but current Islamic militancy has its origins not in the Middle Ages or in violence inherent in a major faith, but in real problems in the real world – so real solutions are possible.
1 We need to recognise that ‘al-Qaeda’ is an ideology, not an organisation. There is no point in talking about masterminds or hunting for a global headquarters. There are none.
2 We need to stop confusing justification with explanation. Learning what motivates enemies does not mean sympathising with them. Merely saying that the bombers are mad, when there is no evidence that militants are mentally ill or backward, and when contemporary radical Islam clearly has its roots in the conditions of the modern world, does not help.
3 We should ditch the rhetoric. There is no point in saying, ‘We will never surrender to terrorism,’ when history tells us that, in order to manage a terrorist threat, successive governments in the UK and abroad always mixed ‘hard’ coercive measures, such as those announced by Tony Blair last week, with a ‘soft’ political strategy that undercuts the legitimacy of the militants’ claims. Representatives of the IRA are in our parliament. The Egyptians and Algerians ended their mass Islamic insurgencies of the early nineties with judicious concessions as well as repression. The Americans blithely admitted recently to talks with Iraqi insurgents.
4 We need to recognise that doing things that enrage millions, even if we feel that anger is wrong-headed and misdirected, will make us more of a target. Before the invasion of Iraq the UK was fairly low down the target list for the militants. Now, Britain has joined Israel and America at its top. It is impossible to speak with any credibility to young British Muslims – or any young Muslims – without admitting this.
5 The 7 July bombers were not ‘brainwashed’ by anyone. Radical Islam provided them with an explanation of what was happening in the world and suggested actions that made sense to them. So we need a broad range of measures to ensure that such ideologies are less likely to convince in the future. If we cannot negotiate with existing militants, we can at least stop the next wave of recruits.
Some causes of terrorism do exist within the UK. They include identity issues and the poor economic performance of many British Muslim communities as much as the activities of radical rabble-rousers from overseas. We need to accept that a harsher security environment will temporarily be necessary. Another major bombing in the UK could damage community relations beyond repair. We now know quite what a powerful weapon surveillance cameras are, whatever their civil liberties implications. Legal loopholes that mean men such as Abu Qatada, a key radical ideologue, cannot be expelled or detained should be closed. Most Islamic countries have a system of government-run colleges for Muslim clerics and licensing for such scholars and the UK needs one too to make sure that the lessons taught in mosques, religious schools and prisons are moderate.
But the real causes are international – and can be dealt with through real policies. Militants often cite Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine as examples of western oppression of Muslims. In each case, complex historical, political and economic factors have combined to sustain conflict. But with sufficient will and attention, and a balanced, tough-minded approach, solutions are possible. Merely making an obvious effort to solve problems in a fair-minded way would be extremely helpful in restoring the goodwill many in the Islamic world once felt towards Britain.
6 We need to look for new allies in the Islamic world. We should be developing major programmes to develop civic society, with a particular emphasis on involving women, beyond the state. There are thousands of under-resourced groups involved in everything from literacy to human rights to micro-credit that can be assisted, with or without the consent of local governments, from the Maghreb to the Far East. They can help us to show the Islamic world that our way of life does not mean ‘neo-imperialism’ or ‘moral corruption’ but is about tolerance, justice and empowerment of the weak. They will help form a critical pro-Western, moderate and locally authentic bloc that in time will become a strong and important voice.
7 If the above seems intimidating, we must remember that small steps can make a huge difference. For instance, we need to sell ourselves better. The Foreign Office needs hundreds of Arabic and Urdu speakers to project our message. The government is determined to improve community relations in the UK, but needs to think globally. Every diplomatic mission should make convincing Muslims that the West is not an aggressor a priority.
None of these measures will end the threat of terrorism, but central to our efforts must remain a simple fact: violent Islamic militancy is not inevitable.
by Vincent Milano · Published April 2, 2019 · Updated April 2, 2019
The RAND Corporation recently released a publication examining the possibility of terrorists using cryptocurrencies to fund their organizations. Titled “Terrorist Use of Cryptocurrencies: Technical and Organizational Barriers and Future Threats,” the report focuses on two key questions. The first is understanding to what extent terrorist organizations are currently using—or not using—cryptocurrencies. The second key question examines what factors make cryptocurrencies more viable for terrorist use and more difficult for law enforcement to detect.
Specifically looking at Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, and Narcoterrorist Organizations, the report finds that currently “there is little indication that terrorist organizations are using cryptocurrency in any sort of extensive or systematic way.” This is mostly due to the weaker security of cryptocurrencies, and their vulnerability to cyberattacks. However, the report points out the existence of “lone-wolf actors and loosely associated groups that are likely to attempt, or are already attempting, to use these systems.” Despite the current lack of cryptocurrency use on a large scale, the authors recognize that “neither the technology nor the groups are static,” and there is no certainty that the current structure is representative of what is to come.
Looking to the future, the report identifies different factors that may increase or decrease the viability of cryptocurrency usage for terrorist organizations. Some of the factors that increase viability include the rise of second-generation cryptocurrencies, which are more anonymous, a growing cryptocurrency market, and the lack of regulatory oversight on many types of transactions. On the other hand, several significant factors may decrease viability, including an increasing rate of hacks and security breaches of cryptocurrency systems, as well as the existing tension and infighting within cryptocurrencies that make the future market unclear.
The study concludes that although the current concerns of terrorists using cryptocurrencies are mostly exaggerated, the continuing technological advancements make it likely that cryptocurrencies will play a more significant role in the future. Nevertheless, the uncertainty that surrounds the cryptocurrency market makes that future difficult to predict.
For more information on topics raised in this piece, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Global Terrorism, Lone Wolf Terrorism, and Cyber Infrastructure Protection.
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The term “Lone Wolf” has been used to describe those individuals estranged from society.
What Is Lone Wolf Terrorism?
Lone wolf terrorism is the term used to describe violent acts committed by a single perpetrator. This person acts independently and without the help of outside organizations. A lone wolf terrorist may, however, follow the ideology of a particular organization or group and may commit acts of terror to show their support of said group. The planning and methods utilized by a lone wolf terrorist are independent. Even if the individuals believes in the mission or objective of a larger organization, they may never have contact with the group. In this way, they remain outside of law enforcement detection and cannot be easily monitored, which makes them difficult to stop.
History Of The Term: Lone Wolf Terrorism
The term “lone wolf” has been used since as far back as the 19th century to describe the one person who breaks away from the pack. The term has been used in film and in mystery novels since at least 1914. A man who called himself the “Lone Wolf” tortured and terrorized women in Boston in the US in 1925. The term has been used to describe those individuals estranged from society; those who never belong.
The term “lone wolf” has been associated with terrorism dating back to as early as the 1980s. Louis Beam, a member of the KKK and the Aryan Nation, wrote a piece for his followers, encouraging a revolution without leaders. He believed that a revolution against the US government would be most successful if fought by independent individuals.
This idea continued to be promoted in the 1990s, by Tom Metzger and Alex Curtis. These two individuals, known white supremacists in the US, followed the recommendation of Louis Beam and encouraged fellow white supremacists to engage in independent acts of violence in order to avoid being deterred by law enforcement officials. The FBI and the San Diego Police Department began an investigation into Alex Curtis, calling it “Operation Lone Wolf”.
Today, the term is used by the media, politicians, law enforcement officials, and the general public.
The Spread Of Lone Wolf Terrorism
Lone wolf terrorism was adopted by al Qaeda after September 11, 2001, when US military forces attacked its operational base in Afghanistan. Leaders of al Qaeda prompted their followers to take part in independent acts of violence against their perceived enemies at any given moment. Years later, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS and ISIL), followed suit, encouraging followers to partake in acts of lone wolf terrorism.
This adoption of lone wolf terrorism tactics has effectively changed the fact of terrorism. Where terrorist acts were once associated with large, orchestrated events led by a long chain of command, terrorist acts are now increasingly led by autonomous cells or by individuals.
In fact, statistics show that throughout North America and western Europe, lone wolf terrorism associated with radical Islam has increased between 1990 and 2013. This increase has been seen in the number of targeted countries, a number of injuries and deaths, and a number of attacks against the military.
Lone Wolf Terrorism And Mental Health
Mental health experts believe that lone wolf terrorists tend to possess psychological abnormalities, incited by personal or political grievances. Their mental instability may be the leading factor that makes it difficult to fit in or belong in everyday society. This rejection may push them toward radical or extreme ideological groups and their causes. One study has shown that a lone wolf terrorist is 13.5 times more likely to have a mental illness than a terrorist who works within a large group.
Tuesday Sep 07, 2021
Our country plunged into deep sorrow and gloom on December 16, 2014 when terrorists attacked Army Public School in Peshawar and killed hundreds of children and members of the school’s staff. What a horrific scene it was. Even though Pakistan had been a victim of aggression since its inception, it became the worst affected country after the world reshaped post-9/11 attacks.
There is, however, some solace in the fact that the UN has declared August 21st as the ‘International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism’ to honour and support the survivors of terrorism and to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The UN is seeking to implement the global counterterrorism strategy by aiding victims and mobilising the international community, but the prime responsibility to help victims of terrorism and advocate their rights solely rests with an individual country.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the US-Afghan war in the 2000s made us pay the price for something we had no part in. Also, criminal and nationalist elements that were produced by certain political, religious, and ethnic groups, elites, and other vested parties in the country created a highly volatile situation here. Consequently, such insecurities forced the police and civil and armed forces to carry out large-scale operations against these elements.
In Pakistan, more than 70,000 civilians and a considerable number of defence and police personnel were martyred during the ‘war on terror’. These fatalities were usually the result of terrorist activities like suicide bombing, target killings, kidnapping and airstrikes. Not only men, but women officials have also suffered in the hands of terrorist activities and rendered their lives in the line of duty. They are also our ‘unsung heroes’ whose names barely make it to the news.
There is no substitute for the lives lost. However, frontline casualties are visible to everyone, but the suffering faced by the families of martyrs remains hidden. The worst victims of terrorism are the inhabitants of war-torn regions who pay the price for unluckily being at the wrong place at the wrong time and who have got nothing to do with the crusade. These lives should not go in vain and be acknowledged frequently by the state which can comfort their families and commence incentives for a violence-free society.
As a police officer, coming across victims of various crimes, accidents and terrorism is agonising and traumatic. Strangely, violence is embedded in humans; it is not going anywhere despite all religious aphorism, progressive doctrines, humanitarian laws and fear of punishment. Today, terrorist activities that are viewed by perpetrators as patriotic, ideological, and virtuous acts have injured and harmed thousands of innocent people every year. Seeing people dead – or dying – is horrifying.
It is appropriate that our nation, which is a frontline victim of terrorist aftershocks, remembers and empathises with these unfortunate citizens who became victims of terrorism. We should reiterate that the dehumanisation of victims – the angry survivors – contributes towards situations conducive to promoting terrorism.
Our resolve should be to reaffirm our ongoing endeavours to combat terrorism, achievable only through the promotion and protection of human rights and rule of law at the national level.
It is time we established a national database of victims to help them recover from and cope with their trauma through multi-pronged care, including physical, psychological, social, and financial, facilitating them to heal and live with dignity. Also, acknowledgment of victims/survivors on a national level is a necessary step.
The state should allocate enough resources and introduce capacity-building initiatives to fulfil the essential needs that are required to rehabilitate and integrate victims back into society. Building the capacity of law-enforcement personnel and various stakeholders, establishing networks, and supporting civil society organisations which work chiefly for victims of terrorism is also crucial.
Our reassurances to victims should be beyond figurative camaraderie and must emphasize on robust engagement to advance their rights, particularly the needs of women, children and those affected by sexual and gender-based violence committed by terrorists.
This year, the fourth UN commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism took place across the world. Pakistan should ramp up its efforts to listen to the formidable voices of victims of terrorist attacks and experience the importance of relationships. Making a difference in someone life should not be a choice. Honouring the victims of terrorism and doing more to ease them is necessary to help them rebuild and rectify their lives.
The roots of terrorism need to be wiped out as they are a big hurdle in bringing ‘socio-economic prosperity, political balance, and geostrategic sustainability’ in the country. We need to work towards a holistic approach for pluralistic culture, tolerance, and peaceful behaviour which can be catalysed simply through mass literacy and education. As one of Nelson Mandela’s timeless quotes goes, “Great anger and violence can never build a nation”.
Victims are neither responsible nor accountable for what they go through. It’s our obligation to ensure that they receive our sympathy, and the best way forward is to take actions against all delinquent groups/people and uphold rule of law. The policies and tactics of expediency and part-time gains should be cast away. We should stop creating Frankenstein’s monsters and must take actions against them in a timely manner. Terrorism is a man-made affliction; it is tremendously painful with trauma being felt by just those who have been direct victims. However, we shouldn’t forget that anyone of us could be next.
One who dies leaves behind sorrow, but those who are fortunate to survive can have a life full of pain, dependency and one of obscurity. In some moments, they wish they would rather die than live such a life.
Relentless recognition, endless care, and timely monetary compensation to the victims of terrorism and crimes should be the state order and our resolution for the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. We should do everything we can to address the root cause of terrorism to alleviate the suffering of the people in future.
The writer, a security expert, holds a PhD in Politics & International Relations, and is presently serving as the National Highways & Motorway Police inspector-general. He can be reached on [email protected]