Decades have now passed since the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh in 1995 and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by al-Qaeda in 2001. Despite the significance of both of these domestic terrorism events, the War on Terror has almost exclusively focused on international terrorism.
Critics argue that the War on Terror needs to focus on more than just international terrorism, because domestic terrorism poses a greater threat in terms of lives and property loss than international terrorism.
Based on this debate, which terrorist threat is currently the greatest threat in the United States? Is it an international terrorist group, such as al-Qaeda, or domestic terrorist groups and their loose affiliates, such as Timothy McVeigh?
In your initial post, comment on whether or not you feel that the current focus almost exclusively on international terrorism is appropriate. Your two replies to other posts can either be a response to a question about your analysis or to the classmate whose work you reviewed.
To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document.
Reading and Resources
Textbook: Global Terrorism, Chapters 4 and 10
Chapter 4 discusses state sponsors and supporters of terrorism. Chapter 10 discusses state use of domestic terrorism.
As you read these chapters, consider the following questions:
- What is the difference between state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism?
- How does state terrorism differ from terrorism conducted by non-state actors?
PDF: The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress
This Congressional Research Service report provides background regarding domestic terrorists and details what constitutes the domestic terrorism threat as suggested by publicly available U.S. government sources. It illustrates some of the key factors involved in assessing this threat and concludes by examining potential issues for Congress.
As you read, consider the following questions:
- What is domestic terrorism and how is it different from international terrorism?
- Is domestic terrorism often confused with other violent criminal activity?
- Which poses the greater threat to the United States: domestic terrorism or international terrorism?
To acess textbook
Peer post one
It is hard to say which type of terrorism, international or domestic, is more of a threat. I think they are both equal threats as either one can produce a significant amount of death, damage, and instill fear. I do think the scales are tipped to the side of international terrorism as far as the United States priorities lay. I think the federal government has recently noticed it too. Deputy Director Travers of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center stated in a recent speech, “we are also seeing a growing threat of both right-wing and left-wing domestic terrorism” (Travers as cited in Andrews, 2019, p.3) During an interview with Chuck Todd (NBC, Meet the Press), when asked about domestic terrorism currently being a bigger threat than international terrorism, Kevin McAleenan, Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security, responded that domestic terrorism absolutely is a larger threat and explained how the DHS supports that mission, but the Department of Justice is the lead agency for the issue. (National Broadcasting Company, 2019) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published its Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence, within the document are several statements on the DHS’s acknowledgement of domestic terrorism is an emerging threat.
Since both domestic and international terror incidents have the potential to cause the same damage, the focus should be equal. However, I do believe that at times it may have a priority on either side and the U.S. should react accordingly. DHS’s Strategic Framework states that Domestic threat actors often plan and carry out their acts of violence alone and with little apparent warning, in ways that limit the effectiveness of traditional law enforcement investigation and disruption methods. (Department of Homeland Security, 2019, p.1) This is a serious problem for the government to overcome. I think the only way to combat this issue is to involve the community in a partnership with law enforcement to detect actors prior to them taking action. DHS’s Strategic Framework acknowledges that border security cannot stop violence originating inside America and prevention efforts must include “whole-of-society” partnerships. (Department of Homeland Security, 2019, p.6) The “Framework” document provides insight that citizens need to know how information they provide supports protection and prevention efforts. I agree with this thought process, as when people know how their efforts are helping they are more inclined to continue to help and when others see the positive effects of citizen involvement, they most likely be inclined to help law enforcement.
Andrews, J. (2019, March 5). NCTC Deputy Director Travers at World Counter Terror Congress. Retrieved from https://www.dni.gov/index.php/nctc-newsroom/nctc-s…
Department of Homeland Security. Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence, Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence (2019). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publicatio…
National Broadcasting Company. (2019, August 13). Meet the Press – August 11, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-…
Peer post 2
International and domestic terrorism both pose a significant threat to the security of the United States. However, there have been far more domestic terrorist incidents than international terrorist attacks on our country overall. Homegrown terrorism is our greatest threat due to the higher frequency of it. I think many people in the United States fear international terrorism over domestic terrorism because of the 9/11 attacks. International terrorism is certainly a significant threat to our country, but domestic terrorism is more commonly an issue. However, international terrorist attacks have the potential to be highly devastating, as we saw on 9/11/2001.
There are more homegrown terrorists in our country than terrorists with international affiliations. At the peak of the Islamic State’s reign, there were many ISIS “sympathizers” in our country in support of the terrorist group. Domestic terrorism is defined as victims within a country being targeted by a perpetrator with the same citizenship. The FBI uses the term Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVE’s) to describe individuals who are self-radicalized primarily in the U.S. with no direct connections with foreign terrorist organizations. The FBI is investigating reports of HVE’s in every state in America.
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