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  • Guest Blogger: Americans Must Remain Vigilant as Terrorists Seek to Attack 'Soft' Targets

    In the past week, military excursions into the tribal regions of Pakistan targeted Islamist militants believed to have connections to a number of plots designed to strike at the European mainland. As more evidence comes to light, it becomes clearer that Islamist militants have been preparing to hit “soft” targets in and around Europe, in a manner and fashion similar to the coordinated attacks in Mumbai in 2008. While the United States appears to have avoided the target lists associated with this latest round of threats, it would be foolish to assume that the American homeland can avoid such threats ad infinitum.

    As the threat from al-Qaeda becomes more diffuse, similar organizations inspired by its twisted interpretation of Islam have risen to occupy the forefront of emerging threats facing the United States. Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and al-Shabaab of Somalia have each emerged as largely autonomous organizations whose respective pursuits threaten American interests.

    While many terrorist organizations operate largely devoid of contact with Western society, many adherents to Jihadism, perhaps only tangentially associated to such organizations, use the openness found in Western culture to exploit geographic limitations and spread their anti-modern, anti-pluralistic rhetoric across large divides. In so doing, these individuals act as conduits of radicalism, fomenting antipathy and anger among a homegrown population of disaffected individuals. Within this phenomenon we see the emergence of an ever increasing threat: the homegrown terrorist.

    As incidents of domestic radicalization continue to rise, the danger that a group of indoctrinated, domestic-based individuals will use their unfettered access to American targets rises as well. Possessing U.S. passports allows such individuals to travel freely, unencumbered by the same level of scrutiny placed on foreign terrorists attempting to infiltrate U.S. targets.

    While travel to training camps overseas certainly poses its own risks for revelation among domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies, such travel itself has become less necessary given the level of open-source training materials available across myriad forms of communication, notably the Internet. The Internet has become both an invaluable asset and remarkable challenge for intelligence and public safety agencies combating terrorism in the United States.

    The Mumbai attacks of 2008 offer a glimpse of the danger that has become increasingly relevant to Western societies. In a series of coordinated attacks, Islamist militants stormed multiple locations, deploying timed-bombings and teams of heavily armed gunmen to locations throughout the city. These attacks were conducted with simultaneity and caused security forces to scramble in an effort to contain an attack with multiple points of engagement. When the terror spree was finished, 166 innocent civilians were killed and over 300 wounded.

    Recent chatter among Islamist groups, suggesting an intention to reproduce Mumbai-style attacks against a variety of European targets, prompted multiple U.S. drone strikes that killed several suspected militants in Pakistan, including eight German nationals. With recent events in mind, it is incumbent upon public and private institutions in both Europe and the United States to maintain their vigilance against future attacks of that nature. Attacking “soft” targets in the United States, such as malls, hotels, schools, or other less target-hardened sites with high levels of human traffic, will continue to be among the terrorists’ preferred targets.

    Local law enforcement must team with their state and federal counterparts to ensure that timely intelligence is disseminated in an efficient manner. Further, state and local law enforcement must prepare to encounter large, coordinated attacks with multiple venues. An attack against an American city, such as the one that befell Mumbai, would tax the resources of most any law enforcement agency in the United States. As such, it is necessary to incorporate the anticipation of such an attack into the training and mindset of law enforcement. Anticipation and training for an event of that nature can mitigate the damages that such an attack would have should it reach an operational stage.

    Scott Erickson has worked in the field of law enforcement for the past decade and holds both his B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice Studies. He is contributor to The Daily Caller.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Guest Blogger: Americans Must Remain Vigilant as Terrorists Seek to Attack 'Soft' Targets

    1. James Speed, Greenvi says:

      I would hate to see these raghead POS's start hitting us at home. We are a dichotomy here in the USA, Sheep and SheepDogs with the vast majority being Sheep. My predelection for that term comes from understanding large, small and diverse categories of people for many decades. By the term SheepDog I'm implying all Law Enforcement, National Guard OR anyone else (Civilian) that will stand in the gap and be counted when the rounds start going overhead or the IED's start going off on the Interstates. These people either have guns at home or have CWP's.

      The biggest reason Japan did not invade the USA was their fear of GUNS. Plain and Simple. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said. "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."

      This is something the terrorist are discounting. They truly dont "Get It" about us here in the west, and thats a GOOD thing. While they understand there are MANY guns, they doubt the resolve of the US population to use them in an all out firefight. They think wrong. More and more we are seeing CWP holders facing off against criminals and stopping crime or the criminal dead in their tracks. Just let IED's or shootings start taking place all over.. Guns will be EVERYWHERE and on more people than you could shake a stick at.

      The sad thing is, we ARE a giant like the Japanese Admiral also quoted after attacking Pearl Harbor. He quelled the excitement about the sucess of the mission because he was Very aware of the "restrained Might" of the United States and its possible war waging abilities. Its industrial might and power outdid the combined industrialization of the known world at the time. But we are like an Aircraft Carrier… the most deadliest ship on the sea, capable of wiping almost all life off the face of the earth with its weapons.. but she steers long and it takes some time to bring her about. The same with the USA. We took the shots to the chin on 9-11, but before the last plane went down in that field in Pennsylvania.. we were already fighting back with the famous "Lets Roll" onboard that aircraft.

      We Americans are both soft and hard at the same time. IF we are to become soft targets in the future I will say that unless the chatter gives up good intel, we're going to take quite a few shots to the chin again until we figure it out. When we do, Katy bar the door, Terrorist and terror supporters get the hell out of dodge or we will flat mow your ass down. It wont take but a few hits in the heartland to have us looking as sharp as hawks at Anyone, Everything, All the time.

      Maybe I'm a pessimist, but should this come to us, I think we will be able to handle it.. once the shock wears off.. and that is a problem. We as a people are vulnerable as a whole when things first occur.. after that, we hit our stride..

      Just my humble opinion..

    2. Billie says:

      I'm sure there will be publicity stunts just for the purpose of suing…

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