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Posts Tagged ‘TERRORISM’

Originally published in the Rutland Herald and the Barre Times-Argus
July 26, 2015

The City of Burlington has recently hired a new chief of police, Brandon Del Pozo, who was previously a New York Police Department beat patrolman, precinct commander and NYPD representative in Jordan, where he investigated terrorist events in an attempt to broaden the NYPD’s knowledge of such activities.   

 During the course of his approval process, he was sharply questioned on a paper he had written 15 years ago that examined profiling in police work. Fortunately for Burlington, this highly qualified and thoughtful individual ultimately passed muster and was unanimously hired by the City Council.    

The threat of terrorism in this country is very real. While al-Qaida could conceivably mount another operation like 9/11, it is more likely that ISIS or one of its affiliates will manage to radicalize one or more Americans and encourage them to commit less dramatic but highly effective acts of terrorism.    

What we are facing are self-motivated individuals who, through their own initiative, independently join the ranks of radical Islamists. The result is that U.S. law enforcement, whether national, state or local, is faced with the extraordinarily difficult job of somehow finding and disrupting self-motivated individuals bent on terrorist acts, before those acts are carried out.    

The process of self-motivation is largely passive. Those who go that route simply log onto jihadi websites and learn what they want to know without necessarily having any direct, traceable contact with other radical lslamists. A perfect example of this is the self-radicalization of the Tsarnayev brothers and their attack on the Boston Marathon. Moreover, in the wake of the Snowden revelations, finding these highly random apprentice terrorists through legal technical intercept operations is likely to be a daunting task.    

Radical Islamists, or those like al-Qaida and ISIS, represent only a tiny fraction of Muslims worldwide. We tend to think of Muslims mostly as Arabs, but, in fact, totaling around l.6 billion souls, they are also in the old Yugoslavia and Albania, Africans throughout that continent, Chechens in Russia, central Asians across the southern edge of the old Soviet Union, Iranians, Indonesians, Malaysians, Turks, Kurds, Pakistanis and Indians as well as Bangladeshis. And they have minority groupings in many other countries around the world, including the United States and Israel.    

So when it comes to counterterrorist operations, there really isn’t any such thing as racial profiling. Radical Islamic terrorists can be just about any color, any race. The only thing they have in common is their religion. So, to be honest, if you see radical Islamic terrorism as a real problem, you have to look closely at Muslims.    

And the truth is that the vast majority of Muslims have reason to be more terrified by radical Islam than do non-Muslim Americans. In fact, most of the people murdered by ISIS in the Middle East have been Muslims of one sort or another who, most importantly, are not sufficiently pure in the eyes of ISIS. Moderates understand this and are our natural allies.   

So, when we look carefully at Muslim populations in America in the hope that we can find members of those communities who recognize the unity of interest that they have with non-Muslim Americans, are we profiling? Is what we are doing wrong?    

America has had this problem over and over in the past. When that has been the case, we have not hesitated to profile our logical targets. We have asked sympathetic members of hostile groups to help us in the difficult task of overcoming these threats. Why should it be any different today?    

It is through relationships with American law enforcement organizations that American Muslims ultimately can best protect themselves against radical Islam. They are the people in America most likely to be able to assist in the extremely difficult process of trying to identify self-radicalized Muslims who are intent on committing terrorist acts. They are the strongest potential allies we have in this struggle.    

As long as they see the U.S. government as opposed to radical Islam and not opposed to moderates, they will be able to find ways to help us. As we continue to withdraw our military personnel from the Middle East where they are, unfortunately, viewed even by moderate Muslims as enemies of a broader Islam, we will find American and other moderate Muslims more and more willing to help is in the struggle with fundamentalist Islam. 

 

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Originally published in the Rutland Herald and the Barre Times-Argus

May 17, 2015

As a result of unspecified warnings from the radical Islamic State (ISIS), the U.S. has just increased the security level at domestic military bases. The upgrade came shortly after the FBI director spoke out on the increasing threat of jihadi attacks here in America against U.S. military and police elements by home-grown terrorists.

This announcement may make some Americans feel a bit safer, but how many of us understand that this is precisely what ISIS would like to see happen? It is in their interest to see the U.S. government do anything that creates fear in the U.S. population, particularly when they don’t have to mount an actual operation to get it done. All they have to do is make us think something is up, and they can raise our fear level literally without risk.

Anything the jihadis can do that will create fear is fair game if it impacts the willingness of Americans to support the continuation of our activities, particularly military, in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the two administrations we have had since 9/11 have done little to calm the population and a great deal to make us fearful.

Further, it is an unfortunate fact that both administrations have been driven by a CYA (cover your posterior) mentality. The thought process involved here is that it is better to make public frightening information and have nothing happen, than to do nothing and have something bad happen. That has added to our level of fear since 9/11.

ISIS, like al-Qaida, has the primary goal of forcing the United States out of the Middle East so they can establish their own rules without our interference. To do that, both organizations realized that they had to realize major dramatic, terrorist accomplishments in order to pressure us into leaving.

For al-Qaida the major impact operation was 9/11. But, given who they were, al-Qaida was pretty much limited to operations originating outside the United States. As a result, the pace and extent of their post-9/11 operations dropped off sharply. In addition, we mounted a program of drone and other attacks on al-Qaida, which destroyed much of their leadership and, even more importantly, forced them to look almost constantly over their shoulders, seriously diminishing their effectiveness.

For ISIS, it has been a far different situation. They have benefited from the fact that the United States has been fighting on Arab lands for 15 years and that, in the process, we have thoroughly alienated much of the region’s population and worldwide supporters. This has given them a flexibility not enjoyed by al-Qaida, and they have taken advantage of it in many ways, perhaps most importantly in the area of propaganda.

They have very astutely gone about the recruitment of thousands of sympathizers from abroad. This number has included Europeans and North Americans and in our case, has given them access to a number of sympathizers here in America, a new and potentially effective Fifth Column. Now ISIS can remotely direct operations here in America against their favorite targets. And think how much easier that will become when American sympathizers who have gone to Syria to fight for ISIS start to come back to the States. Not only will they be easy to direct, but they will be hardened fighters already trained to the teeth through their Syrian activities.

ISIS will undertake any operation that will create fear. Whether the targets are malls, police or the military, whatever terrorist activity weakens the resolve of Americans to continue Middle East operations will be favorably considered.

Worldwide experience tells us that terrorism is best countered by a combination of police and intelligence work and that military confrontation is highly counterproductive. Given that reality, there is a potentially viable course of action for us on this issue.

What America could most profitably use, and probably for political reasons will never get, would be an internal security service without arrest powers, built along the lines of Britain’s MI5. It would provide a unified combination of intelligence and law enforcement now lacking here.

Short of that, or of military withdrawal from the Middle East, we can and should materially beef up our counterterrorism law enforcement operations under the FBI against ISIS sympathizers here at home. Second, and more critically important, we need to find a way to keep Americans who have gone to Syria to fight for ISIS from returning to the United States, for if they are somehow allowed to come back unimpeded, they will present us with unimaginable problems.

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