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5px; font: 11.0px ‘Helvetica Neue’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre} Imagine a society that is almost completely free of security threats, where there are no attacks on American soil, and no citizens subject to radical beliefs that can influence them.  Imagine being able to watch the news everyday and never see reports of shootings,  bombings, chemical attacks, or even vehicles purposefully running into innocent civilians.

  Imagining this can be quite difficult, because we live in a world where these occur too frequently.  It has even become part of the daily lives of not only the people of the United States, but the international community as well.  The reality is that this completely secure society will never come true.  It is impossible to stop every attack and forever will be.

  As long as people roam the earth, there will always be a threat; stopping all attacks is unrealistic.  The main objective is to try and prevent as many attacks as possible.  The internet plays a pivotal role in attack prevention and is a crucial asset in counterterrorism operations.  In order to analyze the issue of terrorism, the threat must first be defined.  There are two types of terrorists: International and Domestic.

  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (2016), International terrorism is, “perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored)” (par. 2).  Domestic terrorism is, “perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature (Terrorism, 2016, par. 3).  Furthermore, Domestic terrorism is also known as homegrown.

  Now in the age of technology, everything revolves around the internet.  With the power to gain access to just about anything, there are many benefits of the world-wide web, but there is also a dark side.  Surfacing from this dark side is one of the largest threats to national security today: domestic, or otherwise known as homegrown terrorism (Wigley, 2015, p.60).

  As of 2006, then Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Robert Mueller III, reported that there were “5,000 to 6,000 extremest websites on the internet, encouraging extremists to initiate their own radicalization and to cultivate relationships with other like-minded persons” (p.563).  According to Captain Michael C. Wigley (2015), “radical groups of all types no longer need purely physical assets to recruit and influence individuals for their cause (p. 60).

  These groups use the internet to spread their violent message to people across the world in order to inspire individuals and homegrown terrorist cells (Mueller, 2006, p. 563).  Consequentially, this can lead to attacks.

Today the United States of America deals with both types of terrorism and how to combat them.  With today’s technology, large scale terrorist attacks are easier to detect and not as common (Johnson, 2016, p.186).  The most common attacks are now carried out by “Small Group” or “Lone Wolf Terrorists” (Johnson, 2016, p.186).

  According to President Barack Obama (2016), “the most deadly attacks on the homeland over the last 8 years have not been carried out by operatives with sophisticated networks or equipment, directed from abroad.  They’ve been carried out by homegrown and largely isolated individuals who were radicalized online” (par. 22).  This is the type of threat the U.S.

government faces today.   The internet is used for communication and is a highly effective recruiting asset for terrorist threats.  Radical threats will use it to communicate in order to “influence and motivate, or conversely, manipulate and coerce people from all walks of life into taking extremist and violent action” (Wigley, 2015, p. 60).  With this kind of exposure to these ideologies, it is easy for someone to accept the teachings and become extremists.

  According to Mueller (2006), these extremists are “self-recruited, self-trained, and self executing” (p. 563).  They operate on their own agenda and do not have a leader.  They follow their own extremist views that they acquire from radical websites (Mueller, 2006, p. 563).  This, in turn, makes detecting these type of terrorists difficult.

The main objectives of radical groups are to change policy and even overthrow governments.  These groups understand that media coverage in democracies has the ability to shape public opinion and they use this to their advantage to change the public’s perception and even foreign policy (Wigley, 2015, p. 61).

  Every aspect possible is used in order to give radicals leverage for their agendas. Not every case of radicalization is the same.  Some involve different intricate methods strategically planned to lure people into becoming an extremest and possibly even a terrorist.  Former F.

B.I. Director Robert Mueller lll explained the following:Radicalization often starts with individuals who are frustrated with their lives or with the politics of their home governments…. Some may be lonely or dissatisfied with their role in society.

  Others may have friends or mentors who encourage membership for social reasons.  Once a person has joined an extremist group, he or she may start to identify with an ideology—one that encourages violence against a government and its citizens.  They may become increasingly isolated from their old lives, drift away from family and friends, and spend more time with other members of the extremist group.  As they become more and more involved in the group, they may decide to take action to support the cause—actions such as selecting target, conducting surveillance, raising money, and procuring materials.  As talk moves to action, an extremist can become a terrorist (Mueller, 2006, p. 563).The radicalization process is extremely effective on people who are troubled.

  They can often be easily manipulated and become extremists. They then join radical groups that have the same ideals and values.  The group makes them feel like they belong and that they are part of an important movement.  Captain Michael C. Wigley (2015) states that “one’s relationship with the local community as contributing to one’s susceptibility to radicalization” (p.

61).  In other words, someone who seems to not fit in well with others around them has a better chance of being radicalized due the lack of understanding from others.  They will search for people who are similar to them. Common, popular websites are hotspots for extremist activity.  An example of a common website used for propaganda and other recruiting tools is Youtube.  Youtube started in 2005 and was the perfect opportunity for radical groups to spread their idealistic views (Wigley, 2015, p. 61).

  Therefore, with large websites like Youtube being used as recruitment tools, it is not surprising to find that U.S. citizens are being indoctrinated.   There are many reasons why people become recruits of extremist groups.

  Most recruits  are young and can be “receptive to the extremist cause” (Wigley, 2015, p. 62).  Younger people are easier and more susceptible to becoming imprinted by radical ideologies.

  Additionally, individuals are also targeted based on skills and talents that benefit the extremist organization (Wigley, 2015, p.62).  Any type of skill that can be utilized by the extremist organization is used.  These can be anything from computer technology, to business, or even explosive making.  According to Captain Wigley:Recruits are placed in roles that best exploit their talents.  Recruits radicalized online can be placed into leadership, operational or support roles, serving in positions that vary from intelligence gathering to financing and translating.

In essence, the structure of an extremist organization may mimic that of a military organization, with online recruiting serving as an anonymous and effective means of filling the ranks (Wigley, 2015, p. 62).Recruits are not usually official members of the groups, only “associated” with their views (Kazan, 2015, par. 1).  They can be recruited based on skills, experiences, isolation, sense of belonging, or more than one of these (Wigley, 2015, p. 63).  Furthermore, with so many different areas that a person can assist a radical group with, it is uncomplicated for an organization to find ways recruits can lend a helping hand.

  Many of these targets or recruits are Muslims.  Ronn Johnson (2016) reports Weinburg and Pedahzur (2010) stated that 60 percent of terrorist attacks around the world were committed by Sunni extremists, 13 percent of all terror attack deaths were from suicide bombings, and 93 percent of these suicide attacks were committed by Sunni extremists in 2010 (p.186).  With a majority of attacks being committed by radical muslims, the most imminent threats are radical islamic organizations and groups.

  Also, according to Johnson (2016), “Muslim religious groups have recruited violent African American and Latino street gangs into memberships, with possible covert intentions to develop homegrown terrorists” (p.187).  These methods are utilized by radical Islamic groups to find any way possible to strike a blow to a government in order to bring awareness to their cause.

As a majority of terror attacks are committed by radical Muslims, Islamophobia in America can be a result.  Islamophobia is the fear and suspicion of all Muslims.  Islamophobia can cause severe issues stemming to terrorism.

  President Barack Obama (2016) stated that, “If we stigmatize good, patriotic Muslims, that just feeds the terrorists’ narrative.  It fuels the same false grievances that they use to motivate people to kill.  If we act like this is a war between the United States and Islam, we’re not just going to lose more Americans to terrorist attacks, but we’ll also lose sight of the very principles we claim to defend” (par. 49).  By falling to Islamophobia, society gives Islamic extremist groups justification when it comes to proving points to recruits.  This, in turn, causes more Muslims to become antagonized, which can eventually lead to more attacks.  This is just one example of how a country can provoke Islamic Extremist groups by figuratively putting a target on their back. Europe is a continent plagued by terrorism.

  In recent years they have fallen victim to numerous attacks and not by coincidence.  According to research assistant for the Human Security Centre, Andrea Kazan (2015), “Muslim communities in Europe are not as well integrated into society as those in the U.S.

(par. 2).”  She also stated:U.S.

Muslim communities are usually more educated and wealthy than the national average, giving them fewer reasons to feel alienated.  In Europe, Muslim communities are frequently dominated by low-wage workers.  Indeed, a significant proportion of Muslims in Europe are unemployed and economically disadvantaged (Kazan, 2015, par. 4).This can increase the feeling of alienation and cause them to be a target of the recruiting efforts of radical groups. Another alarming issue is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the influence that this terrorist group has on Muslims in Europe.  According to Kazan (2015), “it is estimated that more than 20,000 fighters have fled their countries to participate in the fighting in Syria and Iraq” (par.

5).  “At least 5,000-6,000 Europeans who fought alongside ISIS and other Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq have since returned to their countries of origin” (“Heritage Expert,” 2017, par. 3).  There is a very real possibility that these people could take part in attacks in their own countries (Kazan, 2015, par. 6).  In November of 2015, an attack in Paris, France by members of an ISIS terrorist cell that had returned to Europe left 130 people dead and 368 wounded (Heritage Foundation, 2017, par. 4).  There have even been studies that project the probability that returning fighters will participate in terrorist attacks.

  In two studies, one gave a 1 in 9 probability, while the other gave a 1 in 4 probability (Kazan, 2015, par. 7).  With such high chances of there being attacks by homegrown terrorists, it is an issue that cannot be ignored in Europe.   The attacks have not just occurred in a few European countries, they have plagued around 15.  “The number of documented terror plots hatched in Europe increased every year since 2014.

  And while most of those plots have been directed at Belgium, France, Germany, and the U.K., as of the end of May 2017, 11 other European countries have been targeted as well” (“Heritage Expert,” 2017, par.

7).  The U.K. alone has “approximately 23,000 terror suspects on their radar,” 3,000 of these are labeled as “the most imminent threat” (“Heritage Expert,” 2017, par. 5).  As a result, with this substantially sized threat looming over Europe, the likelihood of an attack is a strong possibility. Although the United States is not in the same situation as Europe; the risk of an attack is still there.  Due to the United States being a world superpower, many terrorist groups see America as the perfect target.

  With the U.S.’s strong military reputation, a terrorist organization that strikes a blow against the U.

S. shows the world their power and capabilities.  The attack is used as advertisement to show that they can successfully attack anyone, it allows them to instill their most valuable asset: fear.  President Obama (2016) stated, “The whole objective of these terrorists is to scare us into changing the nature of who we are and our democracy.  And the fact is, people and nations do not make good decisions when they are driven by fear.

  These terrorists can never directly destroy our way of life, but we can do it for them if we lose track of who we are and the values that this Nation was founded on” (par. 28).  The U.S.

must uphold the principles of the Constitution and remain strong in the face of attacks. At the same time, there is also another possible front on the horizon that could result in attacks against the U.S.  The U.S. counterterrorism strategy in the middle east could provoke Islamic extremists to strike back in the form of homegrown terrorist attacks.  As of 2015, the U.

S. counterterrorism strategy, in order to combat extremist militants in the middle east, has been conducting U.S.-led coalition air strikes particularly in Syria (Kazan, 2015, par. 9).  This could lead more Small Group and Lone Wolf Terrorists due to U.S. efforts against these extremist organizations.

  They, most likely, would not become official members to attempt to avoid detection.  According to Andrea Kazan (2015), the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (A.Q.A.P.) published a 2011 magazine “Inspire” stating that small attacks are “fundamental to exhausting the enemy and causing him to collapse and withdraw” (par. 9).  In other words, with dangerous organizations such as A.

Q.A.P. publicizing their strategies and encouraging homegrown attacks, people who are inspired by their ideologies might feel the need to take action in the cause.

  Examples of the types of attacks that are encouraged are Boston, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Orlando (Obama, 2016, par. 23).  Due to this issue, the U.S. could see an increase in homegrown terrorist attacks (Kazan, 2015, par.

10).  With air strikes being the main tactic of the U.S.

counterterrorism strategy, it could possibly lead to a climb in homegrown terrorism. The internet can increase the threat, but can also be an extremely useful tool in U.S. counterterrorism operations.

  According to Mueller (2006), “the radicalization process has become more rapid, more widespread, and anonymous in this internet age, making detection that much more difficult” (p. 563).  “The internet is an institution that knows no physical boundaries, requires fewer resources and can reach every corner of the globe (Wigley, 2015, p.61).  This allows extremist organizations to recruit all over the world.  But at the same time, the internet also functions as an extremely useful asset to U.S. counterterrorism agencies.

  Mueller  (2006) states:Using searchable databases, we can track suspected terrorists through biographical information, travel histories, and criminal and financial records…. Our terrorist screening center provides federal, state, and local officials with real-time connectivity to the terrorist watch list.  We maintain a database of more than 200,000 known or suspected terrorists….

We must be able to identify the links between extremists and their activities. Technology provides the means to make those connections (p. 564).Above all, by utilizing these databases, the U.S. is able stop terrorist attacks before they occur.  The internet is essential in the fight against terrorism. The internet is critical to terrorism attack prevention and counterterrorism administration.

  It allows the government to learn about online radicalization as well as the extremist and terrorist mindsets.  It enables the government to track possible terrorists and avert attacks.  As technology continues to evolve, extremist organizations find new ways to further their cause and government security agencies find new ways to counteract them.  Although the world will never be completely free of terrorism, this is a step in the right direction in order to achieve a secure society.


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