This chapter presents a detailed review of various literature materials from independent sources that provide information about the effort by the department of homeland security to deter domestic terrorism. As earlier mentioned in the first chapter domestic violence entails carrying out criminal activities within the homeland while getting inspiration from extremist movements and ideologies based within the US. Such activities have lead to the killing of innocent American citizens and destruction of property around the country. In most cases, prosecution of these criminal activities is not done under terrorism laws despite their nature of being considered terrorist activities. Even though not officially listed, there are domestic terrorist organizations that have been delineated by the department of homeland security for carryout terrorist threats.
According to a report by the department of homeland security, cases of domestic terrorism have risen over the past decade. The report notes that the potential threat posed by domestic terrorists is classified alongside the threat caused by Islamist extremists. There have been several incidences of violent activities and killing of citizens and police officers by the listed domestic terrorist organizations. This has forced various federal law enforcement agencies to shift their focus and attention on these organizations. The federal bureau of investigation says that sovereign citizens in America do not support the government and the kind of activities and potential threats they pose is classified alongside that of external terrorists by Islam extremists.
The department of homeland security blames this problem to the subscription of the ideology or mind set of sovereign citizenship. People who subscribe to this ideology always believe that they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal, state, or local statutes. Homeland security also says that some of these domestic terrorist organizations believe in the notion that they are permitted to arm themselves and fight against the police.
Efforts by the department of homeland security to respond to this growing number of domestic terrorism have never been smooth flow. Political influence has in one way or another hampered these efforts as some section of congress mostly from the Republican Party have either supported some of the domestic terrorist organizations or criticized the department of homeland security for being politically influenced. In 2009, the department therefore decided to cancel its plans to track and inform the police about the activities of these domestic terrorist organizations. This was mainly because the matter was politically charged. However, since the domestic terrorists continued to pose a threat to the nation, the federal government and its security agencies were pushed into increasing the effort to curb domestic terrorism.
For more than two years the department of homeland security took a more relaxed stance in handling the domestic terror activities. It failed to conduct its own analysis and intelligent services on the growing extremism in the homeland. This stance was taken amidst the concerns raised by civil rights groups and the increasing threats from the listed home based extremist groups. A lot of focus was instead placed on international or Islam related terrorist activities. As earlier mentioned in the paper, the decision to take a relaxed position on the home based terrorism was mainly based on politics. There was too much criticism and politically charged debates regarding the issue of allowing department of homeland security in carry out intelligence services and analysis of domestic terrorism. The department withdrew its personnel from studying internal terror activities. The US government for instance, supports abortion in certain instances. However, people who hold extreme perception that abortion is unethical would constantly fight with the government and engage in violent activities just to prove their point. It is the duty of intelligence agencies to conduct regular analysis in order to establish the possibility of an attack from such internal extremist groups. Other critics, which still were part of the conservative group, of the effort of the department of homeland security to monitor and analyze domestic terrorism based their arguments on the fact that DHS had never made any in depth report of the domestic terrorism.
Based on the report by DHS, it is necessary for local, state and federal security agencies to share the information regarding the activities of the home based extremist groups. However, there will be need for one agency to regularly conduct intelligence services and collaborate with the police. Since the department of homeland security already serves the role of protecting the American citizens from international terror organizations, it would only be prudent to allow it to also be in charge of security against domestic terrorism. Having analytical staff members to also study domestic terrorism has been described to be very critical and essential for internal security of the country. The analytical staff members definitely need to educate other line officers on the activities of the domestic terror groups. This has been noted to be one area where the efforts by the department of homeland security are warranted.
Despite the complaints and criticisms that were aimed at the department of homeland security, it is now emerging that there is need to allow the organization to play a leading role in protecting citizen from internal terror attacks. It may not be sufficient to focus all attention on international terrorism or terror activities relating to Islam extremists. It is also of need to focus attention on domestic terrorism. As earlier noted, domestic terrorism has a potential to cause deaths of innocent civilian and security officers and cause destruction of property.
In the US, only Islam related terror threats that do capture the attention of security agencies as well the political leadership. However, since the studies have revealed that most of the terror activities conducted in the US after the September 11 attacks were not related to Islam, Al Qaida or related organizations, a lot of attention in the department of homeland security and political leadership is being drawn to the security from domestic terrorists. The point that DHS attempts to put across is that, it is wrong to overlook the internal terrorist groups and to underestimate the magnitude of terror attacks they can cause. The 2009 report that did not get the excepted reception from a section of the political sphere, pointed out that at least five of the listed domestic terror groups had vowed to arm themselves and use weapons of mass destruction in order to get their voices heard. In addition, two non partisan groups responsible for tracking domestic terrorism also concurred with the report by the DHS that some of the internal terror groups have intentions to begin arming themselves and fight against the police. Such assertions should be worrying to any government and interested parties. The issue of domestic terrorism should therefore be a matter of concern in all sphere of government.
The issue of being aggressive and violating the civil liberties is a big concern in deterring domestic terrorism. Therefore handling the problem requires that both civil liberties are and security issues are taken into account. According to Stone (2006), the powers of the police need to be modified in a way that would simultaneously deal with the terrorist activities and honor human rights. He notes that the terrorism, either domestic or international, need to be placed both in the immediate and historical context in order to formulate ways of dealing with it. Stone says that the question of balance is what matters. In most cases, terrorist, especially domestic terrorists tend to hide behind the rights and freedoms of citizens as prescribed by the law. This therefore forces security agencies into a dilemma of either to reduce freedoms counter terrorism.
Hayes (2005) asserts that the need for freedoms and rights have to be balanced against the need for security. He notes that both freedom and security have equal value and therefore it would be unfair to trade one for the other. In every society that wishes to uphold democracy, human rights have to be honored and at the same time, the security of citizens is of the essence. Such sentiments have been echoed by several other authors who tend to argue that real threat to citizens is not created by terrorism but by forcing people to live according to political values and traditional laws. Therefore the department of homeland security and other federal security agencies need to have powers that strike a balance between security and the rights and freedoms of individuals. To the extreme cases which can be prosecuted under terrorism laws, there is need of immediate arrest of any individual found.
As noted by Danziger (2012), domestic terrorist organizations are normally funded in way or another to support their activities. In some cases, political parties tend to throw in their weight in support of some of these listed domestic terrorist organizations. While developing ways in which to combat the domestic terrorism, the department of homeland security should therefore make attempt to understand the funding of these organizations. It can be borrowed from international terrorist groups that they use received funds for two primary purposes: mounting attacks and sustaining their networks. This same purpose can be adopted by the domestic terrorist organizations based on the understanding that it is only through terror that they can force the government to act and meet their demands. Danziger (2012) further says that it is possible for international terrorist organization to partner with some of the domestic organization and support their agendas. In this way, they can also be involved in funding the domestic terrorist organization. It is therefore important for the department of homeland security to evaluate and understand financing means adopted by these groups in order to formulate effective ways to counteract their activities.
Bjelopera, J. P. (2012). The Domestic Terrorist Threat: background issues and congress. Congresional research service.
Danziger, Y. (2012). Changes in methods of freezing funds of terrorist organisations since 9/11: A comparative analysis. Journal of Money Laundering Control, 210 - 236.
Dollah, M. M. (2011). The roles of army intelligence in combating terrorism in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpar: University of Malaya.
Hayes, B. (2005). There is no balance between security and civil liberties – just less of each. Retrieved from ECLN: http://www.ecln.org
Smith, J. (2011, June 7). Homeland Security Department curtails home-grown terror analysis. Retrieved from WP Politics: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/homeland-security-department-curtails-home-grown-terror-analysis/2011/06/02/AGQEaDLH_story.html
Stone, R. (2006). Police powers and human rights in the context of terrorism. Managerial Law, 384 - 399.