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1) What is the nature of the threat and what are you thoughts about the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism? https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/15/fact-sheet-national-strategy-for-countering-domestic-terrorism/
2 Describe the three thrusts or main points for CVE described in the article by Hadra (2016) titled a how-to on countering violent extremism when it comes to efforts here within North America. Which particular CVE approaches or programs described in the National Counter Terrorism Center “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts” do you think are or will be most effective when employed?
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1. This week I’ll be addressing the President’s plan for countering domestic terrorism and discussing what the threat is.
Domestic terrorism is not a new concept nor is it something that the US was unfamiliar with prior to 9/11, the Boston Marathon Bombing, or the Fort Hood shooting. President Biden has chosen to take a more aggressive stance on domestic terrorism however and his strategy shows that. By providing a doctrine that prescribes the need to better fund, better coordinate, and better address domestic terrorism the President has laid out several pillars that guide this process. In my opinion however, while these pillars describe what needs to be done, I find this National Strategy to be lacking in clearly defined terms of what will actually be done and rather just spells out what these Federal and local law enforcement bureaus need to accomplish. For further guidance from the White House, I’d like to see a plan and a real strategy that provides a path to preventing domestic terrorism and if necessary, combatting it at its source.
Domestic terror, however, is purportedly not on the rise, and in a recent paper and in a previous week’s discussion I addressed this facet. The media and government seem to be at a crossroads on whether or not domestic terrorism is increasing. There seems to be some consensus that right wing extremist groups have begun to show more of a proclivity for domestic violence and have been seen in recent years to be present at every major occurrence of civil unrest and even now are causing issues at local demonstrations that are opposite their views. Overall, I expect that in the next 5-10 years the US will see a larger and more prevalent threat by way of domestic groups as opposed to external foreign terror groups.
2. The strategy outlined by the White House on domestic terrorism does not seem like it is really adding much. It seems like a reiteration of everything they are already doing with just more money. There are statements such as: “We will work to ensure that law enforcement operates without bias,” “pursuing efforts to ensure domestic terrorists are not employed within our military or law enforcement ranks,” and “The U.S. Government will improve public awareness of federal resources to address concerning or threatening behavior before violence occurs” (Briefing Room 2021). All of these are already a high priority and simply throwing more money at it in hopes things go away will never work. The strategy sounds good, but it seems like simply more fluff to satisfy a narrative that does not seem to be correct. Fusion Centers were supposed to track down domestic terrorists, and they ran out of things to do, so they were repurposed to analyze all crime. The problem of domestic terrorism is over-emphasized and not a problem that garners as much attention as it is given. It would be much more beneficial to shift a lot of those resources to the Southern Border in an attempt to secure the border better.
It seems like there are more attempts to create terrorists out of nothing rather than finding and punishing actual terrorists. Take the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer that was found out to be almost entirely staged by the FBI. “There were at least 12 FBI informants involved in the investigation to thwart the alleged scheme by a militia group known as the ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ — but the agents actually took an active part in it right from its inception, according to court filings” (Moore 2021). If there was a huge threat of domestic terrorism, the FBI would not have to convince a couple of guys to commit or attempt to commit a terrorist act. I could be wrong about this, and if anyone disagrees with me, please respond. I would love to discuss it. However, it seems to me if the situation was that bad, government agencies would not have to coerce people into committing acts of terror. That’s like complaining about your store getting robbed and then paying someone to rob your store to prove your point.
3. Terrorism has become the new norm and is continuously finding alternative means to attract and attack vulnerable people in the digital realm and physically.
Today it is becoming important that we step up our capabilities to prepare for, to prevent and to deterrent against possible aggression that is deliberately targeting the U.S. government, our communities, and our infrastructures. According to Hara (2016), “Brookings have hosted several events that were focused on how to counter violent extremism” (p. 1). During these events several individuals from Brookings exploited the underlining issues that led to the rise of al-Qaida and the Islamic State, and to include recommendations on how policy makers should move forward to better counter terrorism.
In Dana Hadra’s article, it is recommended that in an effort to achieve balance we should formulate a deterrent force against violent extremists that fully aligned counter-terrorism policies and decisions, define our goals to fix major gaps in communication to be fully aligned with federal, state, and local agencies, improve interagency relationships and find a middle ground for both security and civil liberties that are detrimental to preventing violent actions without compromising our values.
Most importantly it was recommended that the use of de-radicalization and rehabilitation programs to be implemented when one may want to disengage themselves from violent associations.
Young adults are much more susceptible to becoming sympathizers for a cause and becoming violent extremists. I believe that the younger generation is vulnerable to having access to a magnitude of information and disinformation from the internet and within their social networks. With this being said, it is imperative that our local communities are equipped with awareness of early signs of threats, help disillusioned individuals and work with religious leaders to better understand religious texts.
Furthermore, I believe that the Saudi Violent Extremists Rehabilitation Program is an effective program to aid in reeducating and redirecting those that are being radicalized. Saudi Arabian’s program utilizes a five-phrase program that consists with tools that are tailored to prevent, provide rehabilitation, aftercare, monitoring, and other tools to reintegrate these individuals back into society. What stood out to me is that the program helps individuals from having an inaccurate understanding of religious texts and according to CVE Guide the program heavily focuses on ideological and religious reeducations.
4. The radicalization process is not always a straight-forward answer and comes down to the individual mindset. The reasons people join extremist groups are complex, multifaceted, and involve unique personal and situational factors. Recruits rarely have a direct answer and choose to alter their stories to avoid their complexity. In the article, A how-to on countering violent extremism, it pointed out the need to build and create trust-based dialogue with communities and implement early intervention programs for communities at risk of engaging in violent extremism. Discussing the reasons which reinforced an individual’s radicalization varies from their particular sociological and psychological influences. Through local partnerships, much insight can be learned to, “better understand violent extremism and its drivers at the international, regional, national, and local levels” (Hadra, 2016).
It is important to understand why individuals travel and spread violent extremism in the Middle East from around the world. Regaining the trust of local Sunni communities without a political agenda is vital to rebuilding lost relationships and focusing more on conflict prevention and mitigation will assist in slowing the spread of violent extremism. In order to reduce the vulnerabilities of local communities, these outreaches much tackle weak governments, limited education, and unemployment. Programs should be created and assessed to offer counseling, vocational training, and working with former foreign fighters who have learned the errors of their radicalization.
The Singaporean Violent Extremist Rehabilitation Program focuses on reducing social disorder to enhance society integration for religious minorities. It is a public-private partnership between the government and religious population using cognitive treatment, community involvement, and individual rehabilitation. The program uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide a comprehensive agenda and financial provisions to their families. It is interesting to note Singapore only enlists about 30% of detainees into the program as it is understood that not every extremist or associated individuals can be rehabilitated (National, 2014). Built on strong family and aftercare components which focus on countering extremist ideology, the program helps participants to think differently about themselves and others. It provides family counseling, social rehabilitation, religious education, and job placement.