|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Race Racism United States Terrorism Gun violence|
A five-member cell of a white supremacy group has launched a successful terror attack during a college football game at the Rose Bowl Stadium, located in Southern California. They did this by first opening fire on the players and spectators using fully automatic weapons then detonating a homemade bomb ferried into the venue in a rental van. All are native-born American citizens with no criminal history. Their attack is racially motivated. Roughly one-hundred people are killed with fifty more injured. Four of the attackers are killed by security or commit suicide, with one detained by law enforcement. There is no known association with an outside group, but three of the five have tattoos that are indicative of white supremacy (swastikas, "white power", and various hate messages). The attackers originally met online and began communicating about terrorism-related ideas. They used encryption technology to mask their conversations and avoid detection.
During a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led police investigation, it is established that (1) each of the five attackers were employed by local businesses;(2) the weapons, the materials used to make the homemade bomb; and the van used in the attack were sourced locally(ie. Southern California). Furthermore, the FBI believes that the participants in the Rose Bowl attack were all college-educated white men in their mid to late twenties, had only recently adopted their white supremacist ideology. Investigators believe the attackers may have attended the same college, or connected through a mutual friend who is possibly a recruiter for a radical right organization. A canvas of local colleges showed some indication that whites supremacy groups have been present on their campuses.
Important security considerations
Violent acts of terrorism can be prevented when there are security mechanisms which disrupt the planning stage preceding an attack, and public security agencies work with other stakeholders to 'harden' what would otherwise be soft targets. The bad consequences of a successful terror attack can be mitigated by public security agencies when there are response plans in place that are known to the public. From the foregoing, the important issues that need to be addressed in regards to the security scenario under review are namely:
- How can groups which hold extremist views be put under surveillance without breaking the law?
- How can local communities and businesses be co-opted into an early warning system capable of disrupting plans to execute acts of terror?
- How can public security agencies work with other stakeholders to make public spaces not attractive to potential terrorists?
- How can members of public security agencies and first responders be trained to respond to acts of terror?
- How can members of the public be educated about these plans put in place to respond to acts of terror as well as the potential role they could play?
Analysis of research results
At the beginning of the 21st century in response to the 9/11 attacks, the American government declared a "War on Terror" but almost 20 years later, the threat of terror attacks on American soil has not been completely eradicated (Gibbs,2018: 1-18). This is because, for the past two decades, the specter of terrorism remains a going concern in the international stage (Sandler 2011). Public concern on about the threat of terrorism has, in turn, fuelled academic study of the phenomena of terrorism. The emergence of self-radicalized, domestic terrorists has added a new dimension to the study of terrorism(Pantucci 2011: 1-39). Existing literature shows that the number of terrorist attacks varies in a cyclical manner (Enders, et al. 2011: 334). Acts of terrorism are done by different kinds of people to pursue different ideological reasons (Laqueur, 2003). Consequently, the term "terrorism" is notoriously hard to define(Silke,2004:57-71). Mickolus et al (2003) report that the most commonly used definition is shaped by the US State Department which defines terrorism as premeditated violent conduct which is politically motivated which targets innocent civilians. Hoffman (2006:40) criticizes this definition because it ignores the impact of terrorism on the general public as well as threats of terrorisms. They propose that it should be defined deliberately creating fear in a target population through violent actions or threats of violence as a tool to achieve some desired political outcome. Silke (2004) proposes that since Hoffman's definition ignores perpetrators and targets, terrorism should be understood as ideologically motivated acts of destructive violence by non-state actors.
According to Enders, et al. (2011), an act of terrorism may be domestic or transnational. The difference between the two is that the latter involves strategic planning and attackers carrying out a terror attack in another country other than their own. On the other hand, domestic terrorism involves a perpetrator, victims, and locations from the same country(Enders, et al. 2011). The violence is also driven by the internal politics of the state hence it is the most common between the two (Enders, et al. 2011). Apart from being the least studied, literature does not give adequate explanations for the causes of homegrown terrorism since scientific testing is absent. What is universally accepted is that domestic terror is prevalent in democratic countries(Ghatak et al.,2017:1-29; Sandler ,2015:1-20). According to Crenshaw(1981), this could be because some people feel excluded from the mainstream political process(Crenshaw, 1981:399). According to Ashcroft et al (2005), liberal democracies encourage and reduce terrorism. This is because the liberal democratic model raises citizen satisfaction and the political efficacy, however, the presence of a free press combined with constraints on police powers put in place to protect of civil liberties undermines efforts to combat terrorism.
According to Davis et al (2006), the job of preventing and responding to terrorism lay with federal security agencies prior to the 9/11 attacks(Davis et al,2006). Consequently, through a change in the law, counter-terrorism was devolved to the state and local level (Davis et al, 2006). This was out of a recognition that the Federal counterterrorism effort needs security agencies at the state level acting in concert with for example , the FBI. According to Davis et al (2006), the challenge today revolves around early detection and disaster preparedness at the state level.
According to Pelfrey( 2007), state-level law enforcement agencies are important partners in gathering intelligence on suspected terrorists or terroristic activities. This is because unlike federal law enforcement, state security agencies have direct relationships with local communities(Pelfrey, 2007:314). These relationships open important intelligence gathering channels for federal agencies. According to Pelfrey(2007), it became important that apart from gathering intelligence, state security agencies to have members who got enough training to fulfill their counterterrorism role. According to Pelfrey(2007), ensuring that this kind of training is effective, it must not only encompass the job detecting terrorist threats but also the knowledge of how to respond after a terrorist attack happens. The writer reports that this is because security agencies have the responsibility of generating terrorist response plans.
According to Baldwin, et al (2008), public support from ordinary citizens is just as important as an inter-agency corporation. This is because vigilant citizens have a role to play in the disruption of terror plans. Furthermore, when the general public is not confident that law enforcement agencies can prevent terrorist attacks, this undercuts prevention efforts (Baldwin, et al, 2008:16-18). Law enforcement must, therefore, engage in building public confidence which is resilient enough to even survive a successful terror attack. This is because according to the authors, one of the main aims of terrorists, is not only destructive violence but also instilling fear in the general public.
Fitzgerald, et al (2018) echoes the same views by proposing that public opinion is essential to the success of counterterrorism. This is because, in order to detect terror plots, policies implemented by law enforcement should inspire the trust of the U.S. population. According to these writers, this is how local residents are enticed to partner with counterterrorism efforts. They propose this is because when a given community need to appreciate that law enforcement is working in the best interest of a given community , law enforcement can build effective intelligence networks (Fitzgerald, et al, 2018). The author suggests that law enforcement needs to build positive public opinion is especially important in a community that is a potential breeding ground for domestic terrorists. This is because it sets the stage for the residents of such a community to report what they perceive as suspicious activity or terrorist support by members of their community.
Baldwin, T. E., Ramaprasad, A., & Samsa, M. E. (2008). Understanding Public Confidence in Government to Prevent Terrorist Attacks. Journal of Homeland Security & Emergency Management. 5(1), pp 1-18.
Davis, L. M., Mariano, L. T., Pace, J. E., Cotton, S. K., & Steinberg, P. (2006). Combating Terrorism: How prepared are the state and local response Organizations? Santa Monica (CA): Rand.
Fitzgerald, J., Ali, N., & Armstrong, M. A. (2018). Terrorism and Policy Relevance: Critical Perspectives. New York(NY): Routledge.
Enders, W., Sandler, T., and Gaibulloev., K. (2011). Domestic Versus Transnational Terrorism: Data, Decomposition, and Dynamics. Journal of Peace Research 48(3), pp 319-37.
Ghatak., S., Gold.,& Prins., B.C.(2017). Domestic Terrorism in the United States: Addressing Minority Grievances. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 20(10), pp 1-29.
Gibbs., J. C. (2018). Domestic Terrorism. Handbook of Security Science, pp 1-18.
Hoffman., B(2006). Inside Terrorism. New York(NY): Columbia University Press.
Laqueur., W.(2003). No End to War: Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. New York(NY): Continuum.
Mickolus, E. F., Sandler., T., Murdock., J.M., & Flemming., P.A.(2003). International Terrorism: Attributes of Terrorist Events (ITERATE) 1968-2002. Dunn Loring (VA): Vinyard.
Pantucci., R.(2011). A Typology of Lone Wolves: Preliminary Analysis of Lone Islamist Terrorists. In Rubin ., H & Bew., J (eds.) Developments in Radicalization and Political Violence. London: The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.
Pelfrey, W. V. (2007). Local law enforcement terrorism prevention efforts: A state-level case study. Journal of Criminal Justice. 35(3), pp 313-321. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2007.03.007
Sandler, T.( 2015). Terrorism and Counterterrorism: An Overview. Oxford Economic Papers .67 (1), pp 1-20.
Sandler., T.(2011). New Frontiers of Terrorism Research: An Introduction. Journal of Peace Research. 48(3), pp 279-286.
Silke., A(2004). The Devil You Know : Continuing Problems with Research on Terrorism. In Silke.,A (ed.) Research on Terrorism: Trends, Achievements, and Failures. New York(NY): Frank Cass.
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