Homegrown Terrorism in the United States
Homegrown terrorism is becoming a major homeland security issue that the government has to deal with in the most appropriate way possible. The United States has been a target of major terror organizations, especially Islamic extremists in the Middle East such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Various security agencies have been coordinating their activities to ensure that these foreign threats do not pose any threat to the United States soil. However, the emergence of homegrown terrorists is proving to be a major challenge to the Department of Homeland Security. These terrorists are Americans who have spent entire lives or most of it in the United States and it is not easy to suspect that they can be terrorists. Some of them are people who have had no past criminal records. However, they develop strong convictions against their own country and target innocent American citizens who cannot protect themselves. According to Charvat (2012), dealing with domestic terrorism is more challenging than dealing with foreign terror groups. The homegrown terrorists have a better understanding of the possible target points and they easily mingle with masses without being suspected. They can strike anywhere and can easily escape security agencies because they are locals. In this paper, the researcher seeks to determine how the threat of homegrown terrorism can be dealt with effectively by the relevant security forces.
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The issue of domestic terrorism has become a major homeland security concern over the past decade. In this paper, it will be important to try and come up with ways through which this problem can be solved. These terrorists pose a serious threat to the security of this nation. Unless a lasting solution is developed, American citizens will still be exposed to major threats. It is important to come up with a single central question whose answer may help in addressing this problem. As Painter (2015), says, when conducting research, it is important to come up with a research question that will guide the process of collecting both primary and secondary data. In this paper, the following is the research question that the researcher seeks to answer.
What is the most appropriate strategy that the Department of Homeland Security can use to deal with the issue of homegrown terrorism?
Homeland security is one of the top issues that every administration in the United States is often keen on maintaining. The socio-economic and political progress in this country heavily relies on the ability of the government to ensure that there is proper security within the borders of the country. As such, the emerging problem of domestic terrorism must be dealt with in the most appropriate way possible. Americans should not be subjected to any form of threat by people who are living within the borders of the country. Based on the above research question, the following are the hypotheses that the researcher will seek to confirm using both primary and secondary data.
H1o. Community policing is not an appropriate way of identifying suspicious elements in society that may pose terror threats.
H1a. Community policing is an appropriate way of identifying suspicious elements in society that may pose terror threats.
The first set of hypotheses focuses on the need for community policing as a way of combating domestic terrorism. Involving the locals in identifying and arresting terror suspects has been considered one of the best ways of dealing with homegrown terrorism. The hypotheses seek to determine if indeed this strategy can help security agencies to eliminate the threat posed by radicalized individuals living within the country.
H2o. Security agencies should not be allowed to conduct intelligence surveillance on their people as a way of identifying terror threats as early as possible.
H2o. Security agencies should be allowed to conduct intelligence surveillance on their people as a way of identifying terror threats as early as possible.
The second set of hypotheses focuses on a controversial issue of government spying on its people. Every American values his or her privacy. However, they all rely on the government to offer them protection. The American government cannot offer the needed protection if the necessary intelligence cannot be gathered. It means that there must be a choice between privacy and security. This paper will be looking at which of the two is more important to the Americans.
The hypotheses discussed above look at the two possible ways of addressing the problem of homegrown terrorism in the United States. The first approach is to promote community policing in the country. In this hypothesis, the independent variable is the act of security agencies developing close ties with the local community as a way of combating domestic terrorism. The dependent variable is a security that is created if community policing is done successfully. The researcher will measure this variable by determining, qualitatively, how well the American community can be protected from domestic terrorism through the implementation of effective community policing strategies. There will be an attempt to determine the relationship between community policing and the safety of Americans from the threat posed by local terrorists. Using qualitative data, the researcher will explain how this variable (involving the local community) is directly related to the fight against local terrorism. The variable can also be analyzed quantitatively by looking at the statistics of acts of terrorism in the country and failure by the government to promote community policing. It can be done by understanding how some of the cases of terror attack- planned and executed by American residents- would have been avoided if the local communities were to be involved.
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The second hypothesis looks at the need for intelligence surveillance by the security forces. The independent variable is the surveillance conducted by the intelligence agencies while the dependent variable is the improved security within the country. Every American indeed values his or her security, especially when they know that their actions are not in any way contravening the law. It is also a fact that most Americans often avoid any actions that are against the law. However, there are a few elements that can pose a serious threat to the majority who are law-abiding citizens. Given that there is no magical way through which the government can identify these criminals, surveillance of the entire population may be unavoidable. The government may be forced to collect intelligence on the activities of its citizens with the view of identifying people who may be a security threat. This variable will be measured quantitatively by collecting data from a sample of respondents. The respondents will be asked to state whether they feel their privacy is more important than their security. The quantitative data will be statistically analyzed to determine if indeed the government is justified to spy on its people with the primary objective of protecting its citizens.
The concept of domestic terrorism first came to limelight in April 1995 when Timothy McVeigh and two other accomplices organized and executed the Oklahoma City bombing (Brians, Willnat, Manheim, & Rich, 2011). Timothy and his accomplices were war veterans but were not happy with how the federal government had handled the Waco siege and the Ruby Ridge incident (Chip, 2016). The attack was carefully planned and efficiently executed that the security agencies had almost no capacity to intervene. As Inserra (2016) reports, 168 people were killed in the attack, while over 600 people sustained varying degrees of injuries. It remains the deadliest terrorist act in the modern history of the United States other than September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda attack (Erdtmann, 2016). Several terror attacks planned and executed by American citizens or permanent residents of the United States have been witnessed since then. Many Americans continue to lose their lives and properties get destroyed by these terror acts because the government is yet to come up with proper means of combating it.
According to Finkel (2016), the United States is home to people from all over the world. When people emigrate from other countries into the United States in search of better prospects in life, they often feel that they are visitors even when they are granted permanent residency (Haynes, 2014). They still feel that they are more attached to their country of birth than they are to the United States. That is why when the United States makes a decision that these immigrants feel are oppressive to their home country nationals, they are tempted to revenge. That is why the problem of domestic terrorism is becoming common in the country. Others also feel that the system is unfavorable to them because of their race, religion, gender, or any other demographical factors. When people start profiling society on various bases, then enmity and discord are created. It becomes easy for a group of people to attack another group, feeling that they are either retaliating or protecting their interest. Painter (2015) says that recent American politics have done very little to unify the country. Many Americans still find themselves classifying themselves into specific groups based on their skin color, religion, gender, or other factors.
The best way of fighting homegrown terrorism is to promote patriotism in the country (Khalid, 2015). It will be necessary for the political class to make every American resident feel that they are part of this community irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or any other demographical factors that were previously used in profiling the society. As the political class tries to find ways of promoting unity in the country, the Department of Homeland Security has a responsibility to ensure that Americans and their property are protected from domestic terrorism. Voeller (2014) argues that community policing is one of the best ways of combating homegrown terrorism. These extremists live in society and they interact with the general public.
People within their community can always detect any abnormal activities of these extremists and share the information with the police. A good case in point, as Chip (2016) notes, is the Orlando nightclub shooting of 2016. Omar Mateen, the lone attacker, in this case, had always expressed his resentment towards the actions of the United States in the Middle East when with colleagues at work. When he started purchasing heavy weaponry from the local firearm stores, the salesmen got suspicious. However, they did nothing because of a lack of close coordination between the community and the security forces. On the night of the attack, he made a post on his Facebook account which strongly indicated that he was going to commit an act of violence against citizens of the United States. No action was taken because no one was tracking his activities. Lack of proper community policing enabled him to execute one of the worst terror attacks in the country in recent history.
One of the most controversial debates that have been in the public domain for decades is the approach that the security agencies use to gather intelligence from its citizens. A section of the society feels that it is not appropriate for the government to spy on them in the name of gathering intelligence. However, Khalid (2015) observes that there is no other way of gathering intelligence without spying on people. The security of Americans and their properties is more important than their privacy. Haynes (2014) says that Americans might be forced to sacrifice privacy for the sake of security. Privacy may mean very little if one lives under constant threat. As such, security agencies may have to be allowed to continue gathering intelligence from people with the primary objective of enhancing security. It might be necessary for the government to come up with ways of collecting intelligence without making the American citizens feel that they are always under constant scrutiny by the federal government.
In this section, the researcher seeks to discuss the methods that will be used in gathering and analyzing data. In the introductory section, the research question and research hypotheses have been developed. To answer the research question and confirm the hypotheses, it will be necessary to collect and analyze both primary and secondary data. Secondary data will be obtained from books, journal articles, and other reliable online sources. Primary data will be collected from a focus group.
Sampling and Data Collection
The nature of data needed in this research can be collected from a diverse group of Americans who understand the threat posed by domestic terrorism and the need to find a solution for it. That is why the study will use focus groups to collect the needed data from the American population. It will be necessary to bring together intelligence officers, law enforcement officers, lawyers, and the general public into a discussion about emotive issues such as the surveillance approach used in the country. Different people can give their varying opinions, and through sincere debate, a consensus can be obtained on the best way that the issue of intelligence gathering can be addressed. It will also be possible to come up with community policing strategies through such discussions to help in fighting domestic terrorism. Stratified sampling will be used to select individuals who will take part in the study. Voice recording devices will be used to collect data from the participants.
Data collected from the participants will be analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative data analysis will be conducted to help explain why it is important for the security agencies and the general public to fight domestic terrorism. Quantitative data will help explain the extent to which this problem poses a threat to national security and what can be done to deal with it. The analysis will help in confirming the research hypotheses developed in this paper.
Data Validity Verification
According to Brians et al. (2011), it is critical to ensure that the collected data is verifiable and can be used to make generalizations about the entire population. The validity of the data will be verified through triangulation. The method will help in determining the consistency of the data. This way, it becomes easy to determine the truthfulness of the data used in the study to make conclusions and recommendations.
The Greatest Challenge
The greatest challenge expected in this study is bringing together the right focus group to participate in the collection of data. Finding individuals in various careers needed to help in collecting data may not be a major problem. However, it will be problematic to convince them to converge in a single conference to discuss the issue of homegrown terrorism and the best way it can be addressed. The college may be willing to provide an avenue where this issue can be discussed, but it might take time to bring them together for the debate. To overcome this challenge, the researcher will make an effort to contact as many participants as possible. This will ensure that even if some fail to turn up, there will be a considerable number of them who will take part in the debate.
Homegrown terrorism is increasingly becoming a security threat in the United States. As indicated in the literature review, the best way of addressing this problem is to have a unifying political climate that makes every resident of the United States feel that they are responsible for the safety of the country. The spirit of patriotism must be strengthened among the citizens. However, it is stated that finding a political solution may not be easy, especially with the emergence of self-centered politicians whose primary concern is not to unify the country but to win the election even if it means leaving the country divided. As we wait for the political solution, the security apparatus in the country must be committed to enhancing the safety of American people and their property. The Department of Homeland Security has a responsibility to ensure that this threat is dealt with effectively to protect American citizens and their property. As indicated in the hypotheses, one of the ways of enhancing security is to promote community policing. By involving the local community in combating crime, the security forces and intelligence community will have better chances of successfully thwarting terror attempts before they can have any significant impact on the lives of the Americans or their property. The intelligence community must have mechanisms through which they can easily communicate with the public to gather information that may help arrest suspected criminals. The other approach is to continue conducting surveillance on the Americans. The security of the country is more important than the privacy of individuals.
Brians, C.L., Willnat, L., Manheim, J., & Rich, R. (2011). Empirical political analysis: Quantitative and qualitative research methods. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Charvat, J. (2012). Homeland security organization in defense against terrorism. Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS Press.
Chip, F. (2016). Securing the resources that secure the homeland. Armed Forces Comptroller 61(3), 6-9.
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Erdtmann, F. (2016). Advancing workforce health at the department of homeland security: Protecting those who protect us. Military Medicine 181(2), 93-95.
Finkel, E. (2016). Critical infrastructure sector battles growing variety of threats. Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders 53(8), 60-63.
Haynes, M. (2014). Homeland security risk and preparedness in police agencies: The insignificance of actual risk factors. Police Quarterly 17(1), 2014, 30-53.
Inserra, D. (2016). Top 5 priorities for homeland security in 2016. Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation.
Khalid, I. (2015). The homeland security initiatives for Pakistan: A grand strategy. South Asian Studies 30(1), 15-36.
Painter, P. (2015). Selected issues in homeland security policy for the 114th congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
Voeller, J. (2014). Detection and intelligent systems for homeland security. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.