Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 11, 2011

Terrorists target and targets take responsibility

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on February 11, 2011

Wednesday Secretary Napolitano was on the Hill testifying to the House Homeland Security Committee.  I was across town working on risk readiness with a group of property owners, building managers and tenants.

The Secretary emphasized:

One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens. We are now operating under the assumption, based on the latest intelligence and recent arrests, that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of violence might be in the United States, and they could carry out acts of violence with little or no warning.

Over the past two years, we have seen the rise of a number of terrorist groups inspired by al-Qaeda ideology – including (but not limited to) al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) from Yemen, al-Shabaab from Somalia, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – that are placing a growing emphasis on recruiting individuals who are either Westerners or have connections to the West, but who do not have strong links to terrorist groups, and are thus more difficult for authorities to identify. (The secretary then references several recent examples and their implications) …

This threat of homegrown violent extremism fundamentally changes who is most often in the best position to spot terrorist activity, investigate, and respond. More and more, state, local, and tribal front-line law enforcement officers are most likely to notice the first signs of terrorist activity. This has profound implications for how we go about securing our country against the terrorist threat, and requires a new kind of security architecture that complements the structure we have already built to protect America from threats coming from abroad.

While Secretary Napolitano was reporting out to the Committee’s new Republican majority,  there were seventy-plus of us considering — among other things — the January edition of Inspire. This is the fourth issue of a full-color, all-English online magazine published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Included in recent issues are directions on how to make bombs of simple household ingredients (a recurring theme), religious guidance on whether it is allowed to “dispossess the wealth” of disbelievers (aka stealing),  and how to re-create a Mumbai-style attack in a neighborhood near the White House.   Since we were meeting in a neighborhood near the White House, this last bit was especially relevant.

The obvious and self-stated purpose of the online magazine is to inspire home-grown terrorists to take free-lance action.

A senior Metropolitan Police Department official consulting with the all private-sector crowd recommended against downloading the online magazine.  I disagree with this advice.  It won’t take you long on Google to find a copy (took me less than 2 minutes).   Otherwise I was impressed with how the MPD is using the magazine and related materials to situate the emerging threat for the public. (Is this part of the “new security architecture” referenced by the Secretary?  It should be.)

Primary sources are valuable.  Reading our adversary’s own words is a good way to better understand their motivations, intentions, and strategies.  It also helps to recognize the superficial and slip-shod character of the ideology being schlepped.  Deep thinking and profound insights do not leap off these pages.  It is quickly clear that the pieces are written by self-justifying narcissists, regular readers of blogs are especially skilled in recognizing this motivation.

The magazine does reinforce the Secretary’s testimony, especially the “threat of homegrown violent extremism fundamentally changes who is most often in the best position to spot terrorist activity, investigate, and respond.”   Terrorism and counter-terrorism are increasingly mass market enterprises.  Further, as with many modern mass markets,  terrorism and counter-terrorism  feature niche products aimed at wide array of micro-channels within the mass market.

For someone living or working in Washington, the issue of home-grown terrorism is not an abstraction.  In June 2009 a white supremacist killed a guard and clearly intended more harm during an invasion of the Holocaust Museum.  Last September in suburban Silver Spring, Maryland a radical environmentalist took hostages at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel and claimed to have bombs strapped to his body.  In recent months FBI sting operations have resulted in indictments against terrorist-wannabes in nearby Maryland and Virginia.  There are lots of other leading indicators.

No surprise, Washington is a target.  No surprise, eventually Washington will be hit again. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say we should not be surprised when Washington is hit again.  Some will, no doubt, claim to be surprised.  Shocked.

Who will hit and precisely how the hitting will be done is more difficult to know.

Al-Qaeda and its spin-offs continue to be the leading brand.  Islamic extremism continues to dominate market perceptions.  But as we have seen at the Holocaust Museum, Discovery Channel, and with the Tuscon assassinations brand dominance does not always track actual market activity.

Last week the Triangle Institute on Terrorism and Homeland Security reported that over the last year, “The number of (Muslim-American) suspects dropped by over half, from 47 in 2009 to 20 in 2010. This brings the total since 9/11 to 161 Muslim-American terrorist suspects and perpetrators.” Included in this number is Daniel Patrick Boyd. On Wednesday Boyd pleaded guilty to conspiring to assist violent jihadists and to participate in attacks in foreign countries.  He has also been indicted on conspiring to attack the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Northern Virginia.  Is Boyd a leading or lagging indicator?

Personally, I am surprised the Mexican drug cartels have been so comparatively restrained in their US operations.  A year ago I would have projected much more violence on this side of the border.

Again, who hits and how we are hit will probably surprise.  Being hit should be expected.  Having a reasonable expectation of terrorism is one of the best means to suppress the terrorist intent to shock us, deploy our fear, and cause us to over-react.

Wednesday in Washington a cabinet secretary confirmed, again, that average Americans are the targets of purposeful murder and mayhem.  Wednesday in Washington several dozen targets were meeting and — soberly, seriously — deliberating how we can recognize, deter, and preempt a threat; reduce our vulnerabilities; and wisely respond and recover from an attack.  We were also getting to know one another, enjoying each other, and building relationships that will pay multiple dividends.


“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

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February 11, 2011 @ 2:41 am

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Comment by William R. Cumming

February 11, 2011 @ 5:09 am

I always have enjoyed logic and its various components. So here goes: A major premise–DHS established in 2003. And now domestic threats have increased to the point of being the greatest danger to the US? What is wrong with this picture? Well of course NO cause and effect? Or is there?
And we know that no equivalent of Britains MI-5 exists in US and that DHS and FBI still have huge analytic shortfalls (being polite)!
And we know that the CIA cannot even predict accurately the Presidency and its incumbent in Egypt?

Hey have Egyptian nationals and permanent residents been moved up since now the links between Mubarak’s staying power, his military and the US and its military is so clearly outlined? No US policy to support or even be clear about Mubarack’s military dictatorship and guess what he stays until death do he part?

We better stop giving all those VISA waivers to Egyptians!

Comment by Disrespect Towards One Another

February 12, 2011 @ 11:32 am

Wake up America….now!

While I have referenced not only this Egyptian upheaval long ago and the same for Libya’s particpation and Ethiopia’s revolution and the affects on shipping and transportation, oil prices, escalating food prices, etc. and far much more..I advised the (W)hite (H)ouse, State and others to place the Quran to the side, get to the bookstore and buy as many Bibles as possible and make mandatory reading — Daniel Chapter 11 – verses – 40-44…All has been written. Only a willingness to repent will alter the dangerous course humanity has set for itself! Remember, every government, no matter its form since Babylon has failed…

Stop the flow of monies out of our belovd Republic in every way. We will need every penny as the road ahead as presented by the “Muslim Brotherhood” and other factions with inherent anti-American sentiment and with the “Brutes of Tehran” still holding the bloody reigns, far more instability is inevitabile. War throughout the Middle East certain! War certain! The clock is ticking…

The German-led ten (10) nation Vatican supported crusade and its bloodied hands against the Muslim leadership is also evolving and it will identify its ugly head as well…

…. all such strategy focused on one and only one objective — as it has always been — control of Jerusalem!

Yes…Whether the Muslim or Christan will control Jerusalem…by the way fellas, while your so quick to use the sword, keep a good look over your shoulder for China will be pulled into this hostility and Muslim and Christian will have gained nothing…

….for just as in history and with the Vatican to blame probably even more than Muslim, neither of you will gain as you so foolishly perceive…for God is witness to you and your malice towards one another!

Instead of acknowledging one another and respecting each other’s similarities and differences, in sharing a watchful eye together, but no, your prowess in power, your lust for the gold, your pig-headed and arrogant demeanor will be your demise and with it you will enslave all humanity!

Repent in your ways. Whether Muslim or Christian, We are all the children of the Creator and He and only God is to judge others. You need not necessarily to embrace one another, but surely sharing and recognizing ne another rather picking up sword is best.

I have blamed the Arab League and others for years and so many who preferred to build hugh marble skyscrapers from sand, while leaving the invaluable youth of the Middle East with little to do, lack of educational institutions, despair rather than hope — no excuses…it is time for goovernments to serve the needs of the public, to help create opportunity.

While, I too have have been Blessed to have walked the streets of Cairo and the Middle East, imagine that the Egyptian leader stashed $5billion in his coffers, stealing the people’s monies and placing so many into poverty rather than utilizing these public monies to promote education, job growth, innovative and entrepreneurial manufacture to improve Life and to afford the youth of the Middle East the opportunity to compete against India and China, their engineers and scientists leading the 21st century into the next century despite the west! All will be to no avail though as humanity will turn its back n history once again a it has so often and so many innocents will perish!

God Bless us all!

It is time for the educated youth of Iran to remember just as in Egypt these 300 Egyptian heros with monument to be erected, just like the rich Persian blood of Iran’s yoth was allowed to be silled on the streets of Tehran. The educated and sophisticated youth lof Iran should lead the hopefulness and promise of youth not allowing the “Brutes of Tehran” and their bloodied hands to thrust humanity into War!

Christopher Tingus

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