Unlike many who talk about homegrown terrorism, Southers does not define it narrowly as related to the Al Qaeda-type Islamic threat. Instead it describes it:
“Homegrown violent extremism is terrorist activity or plots targeting the United States and U.S. assets by American citizens or residents who have embraced their extremist ideology largely within this country.”
In a “Security Debrief” blog post, he goes on to explain:
When we look at the diversity of violent extremist ideologies and thousands of followers who present a threat to the United States, we are looking into a mirror.
Domestic terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing threat. The disrupted Las Vegas plot to kill police officers is only the most recent instance of homegrown violent extremism (HVE), but there are numerous others examples: white supremacist Michael Wade Page’s shooting at a Sikh temple; anti-Semite James von Brunn’s shooting and killing of a Holocaust Museum security officer; Sovereign Citizen Andrew Joseph Stack III’s suicide plane attack on the federal office complex in Austin, Texas; and Floyd Lee Corkins’ attack at the Washington conservative think tank, Family Research Council.
If any of these ideologically inspired attacks had been perpetrated by an al Qaeda actor, there would have been immediate and widespread labeling of the incident as “terrorism.” As it is, however, these attacks have gone somewhat unnoticed in the broader discussion on terrorism and how to prevent it.
He does not stop at defining this problem, but goes on to describe the issues related to addressing it while at the same time not undermining our society’s basic values.
I have not read the book so cannot vouch for Southers’ conclusions. However, I certainly hope this work expands the conversation.