02 October 2016

Homegrown Violent Extremism: Vigilance of Intelligence...

Since the Boston Marathon terrorist attack on Patriots Day, April 15th, 2013 the spectrum of Operational Risks that have descended upon the region and the country are vast.  People, processes, systems and external events are the state-of-play.  If you own a backpack and you are taking it on public mass transit or to a public event soon, remember this.  The new normal has finally arrived in the United States of America, again.

What does the face of terrorism look like?  London understands.  Oslo now understands.  FOB Chapman understands.  New York City.  San Bernardino.  Orlando.  Dallas.  Even as we begin the analysis of this latest U.S. based event in context with all the similarities of past episodes of terror, we are left with one absolute known.  Operational Risk Management is essential, no matter who you trust and how much you trust them.  The public now understands this once again and regardless of how much we may want to continue to enjoy our civil liberties and privacy, you never know when or how this will happen again.

Why is it that Israel and other nations that are so far more advanced in their Operational Risk strategies, still witness numerous incidents of terror?  Because it is impossible to eliminate.  It is only possible to mitigate the risks and likelihood of occurrence.  Public safety and security incidents of this magnitude are the visible metric we all judge to make sense of our progress.  Our only hope is better intelligence.  Lisa Ruth explained this over four years ago:

Intelligence is the best, the only, way to defeat the terrorists. To tackle the terrorist threat, we need all the weapons in our intelligence arsenal. That starts with intelligence requirements from the entire community that are well-focused and well-targeted. It means funding and a mandate to succeed. It means strong collection. We need human intelligence, which comes from case officers recruiting sources on the ground to give us information. We need electronic information, including telephone intercepts and static listening devices. We need overhead photography. We also need open source information such as web sites, facebook pages and other publicly available information. We need analysis, putting the pieces together. And we need decision makers who trust the intelligence services and listen to what they are saying. Washington Times, 9/14/2012

So in the dark shadows and behind closed doors, the whispers continue to debate how Boston Patriots Day 2013 could have happened?  How On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, which consisted of a mass shooting and an attempted bombing.  Why didn't the intelligence we had already, provide the warning in time, in the midst of a glaring yellow or red flag?  As the analysis continues and the best and the brightest determine the lessons learned, we can only pray, that our process changes take place and citizens behaviors are modified.  Erroll Southers explains why we have more work ahead of us:
 At the same time, the radicalization process is not brief. Extremism smolders like a hot coal, an idea that grows into a violent fire fueled by anger, conflicts of identity, feelings of humiliation and marginalization.. It is important for the public to understand that removing any one of these elements cannot fully disrupt radicalization. All of these and other root causes need to be addressed in the effort to not just apprehend terrorists, but dissuade the radicalization that leads to terrorism.
There will be numerous accounts of heroism, people who saw or reported details that could have helped stop any of these Homegrown Violent Extremist (HVE) events.  What matters most from this point forward is that "John Q. Citizen" realizes the importance of being ever vigilant.  Having a continuous sense of personal vigilance is our only hope.  Whether in the crowd at the next marathon or in a lonely office cube, off Route 123 does not matter.  The goal is the same and we must not lose sight of our mutual responsibilities and unified purpose.
Godspeed America!
  1. An expression of good will when addressing someone, typically someone about to go on a journey or a daring endeavor.

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