6 responses

Respond to the following discussions from classmates (X6 Write how you would respond to their discussions) with approximately 125 words or more each. Include a reference to each response if possible. Be thoughtful and insightful and it must demonstrate critical thinking and analysis.

1.This is such an interesting discussion topic and one that truly made me think inside as well as outside the box. The definitions as well as the differences between radicalized homegrown extremist, violent extremist, and homegrown terrorist appear to overlap each other as if they are a road/path to the final outcome of terrorist. Radicalized homegrown extremist “engage in lawful, constitutionally protected free speech and other non-violent and legal activities, but may adhere to an extremist ideology” (Beutel, 2009). For this, special care and consideration should be focused on “lawful, constitutionally protected free speech”, meaning that while the group or individual is expressing extremist ideology they are doing so within the limits of the law. The example that comes to mind for this is the Westboro Baptist Church. Just as the FBI website states “It is important to note that it is legal to have hateful or extremist beliefs as long as you don’t commit crimes or violence based on those beliefs. The right to assemble (or gather) in groups is also protected by the U.S. Constitution” (FBI, 2015). The final two examples of violent extremist and homegrown terrorist were harder to separate because the overlap that is inherent in the two fields. Violent extremists are a group or individual who has an extreme belief in a subject or ideology and will justify the use of violence for their political or religious goals. This group includes but is not limited to white supremacists, abortion extremists, and anti-government militias. Finally, we have the homegrown terrorist who is an American citizen or legal permanent resident who commits an act of terror for political or ideological reasons and have no official connection to an outside terror network/group. One example is strangely an event that is not talked about very often and that is the shooting at the Congressional baseball practice on June 14th, 2017. The shooter/terrorist James T. Hodgkinson was a politically charged 66-year-old man who had an extreme hatred for the Republican party. Before the attack, he was spotted “casing” out the baseball field where he would wait for the Republican members of Congress to form up and then he fired 70 rounds at the congressmen (Shortell, 2017).

 2.I initially had trouble clearly defining the three listed categories of extremists but I believe I was looking too deep into it. What I have come to learn is that the main difference between a radicalized homegrown extremist and a regular violent extremist is that according to the module three notes, radicals “engage in lawful acts and other non-violent legal activities that may be extreme in ideology.” Now violent extremist on the other hand has its emphasis on violence. Whether homegrown or international, the extreme ideologies are just a way of thinking but when violence is used to push your agenda and to cause fear, the difference is very clear. A homegrown terrorist starts with a national who adopts a extreme violent ideology.

An example of this would be Omar Mateen who on June of 2016 was responsible for the shooting of a gay bar in Orlando Florida. Reports state that there were no signs of him being officially affiliated with a terrorist group but in a phone call to 911, Mateen claimed loyalty to the ISIL leader. (Zapotosky & Berman, 2016). It is believed that his teachings came from online and he never officially traveled overseas. Prior to this attack, there were signs that he was adopting extreme view and he ended up getting on the FBI person of interest list but after questioning him, the FBI believed the threats he made to someone was not serious.

3. Radicalized Homegrown Extremist are environmental groups such as the Animal Rights Group (ARG), these organizations commit crimes in the name of justice for animals.  This particular group believes that animals are entitled to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Bjelopera, J.P. (2013).  These groups believe in their cause so strongly that they are willing to commit acts of terror to bring attention to their cause. Typically these groups do not harm people work to free animals that are being harmed and try to destroy the structure or infrastructures that harm animals.

Violent Extremist is groups such as Anarchists such as the ku klux klan.  These groups commit violent crimes in the name of white supremacy as they believe that the white race is higher than all other races.  Bjelopera, J.P. (2013).

Domestic terrorist such as the black separatist are usually motivated by motives of self-interest and are driven by their own causes or beliefs.  Many times their motives may drive them to collaborate with other individuals or organizations to commit crimes.   These participants may perpetrate hate crimes or crimes against the government as their loyalty to their own primary self-interest they will use whatever means necessary to accomplish their goal. Bjelopera, J.P. (2013).

4. In a class, I took last year called HEM 350 International Terrorism we covered former CIA operations officer and terror expert Marc Sageman’s model of recruiting young men for a terrorist group. Sagemans model is placed in 6 steps that focus on an alienated young man, meeting other alienated young men and a bond is formed. From there this group of men gravitate towards a religion and attempt to out do each other in the amount of zeal and passion they have for the religion. From there the religion is misinterpreted into a militant and radical form. Then finally the group of radical alienated young men are either contacted by a known terrorist group or they seek out a known terrorist group to further their commitment and to feel part of something bigger than themselves (White, 2017). The internet marries perfectly into the connecting and meeting of these alienated persons giving them a platform to easily connect to other groups of sympathetic individuals and possible supporters. For example, ISIS recruiters have used Twitter and Facebook; to find sympathizers according to the FBI cybersecurity specialists (Allison, 2015).

5. The use of the internet to spread ideologies grows exponentially it seems. The echo chamber effect creates a space for the subject to identify and then indoctrinate themselves, (U.S. Senate Committee, pp.11–12). This is true to all manner of ideas, from flat earthers, to Salafists. The key to the first phase is curiosity, but once the seeker gets stuck in the echo chamber of extreme ideas, it’s difficult to extract yourself. These groups build in distrust of the outside, those who have not followed the rabbit hole. Internet echo chambers reinforce the ideologies with single sided proof and ways to rebuke any idea put to the new convert by those who are on the outside. Prior to the widespread availability of the internet, the information needed to conduct attacks was passed primarily through training camps, often times overseas in nations which either sponsored terrorism, or were failed or failing states. With the advent of the internet, self-radicalization, using the materials found online through many sources, becomes much simpler. Online magazine’s such as Dabiq published by Islamic State, or dark web internet presences by numerous organizations distribute tactics, techniques and procedures to carry out attacks. It allows for cross pollination of these ideas between diverse groups, and can even complicate the investigation into the motive behind an attack, such as the extreme right wing literature found with the Boston bombers.

6. The internet make it possible for terrorist and radical groups to reach a wider audience of people who are lost, angry and looking for others they can identify with.   It also speeds up the process of antisocial indoctrination allowing them to organize, communicate and assimilate themselves globally or locally at a moment’s notice.   The internet has further increased the threat we face from radicalism and terrorist as they can look up how to make bombs plan and give orders to execute a plan with seconds notice.  Institute for Strategic Dialogue (2011).

The internet allows radicals and extremist to be anonymous and escape being detected for their misdeeds.  For example with the Apple encryption scandal, the FBI is powerless at this point to force apple to write encryption code to break into a terrorist’s phone.  In this case technology has proven to be a tool used to the advantage of terrorist and extremest groups. Allison, G. (2015, November 18).

Some experts believe that the internet makes it easier for people who would not usually associate themselves with radical ideas and behavior to assemble themselves with negativity. These people are more inclined to open the door to negativity from the privacy of their own homes. As they read propaganda on the internet and  find common areas they are angry about they may be pulled deeper into their ideas and philosophies. This over time increases their behavior from just being radical to being extremism.  Allison, G. (2015, November 18).  As they are increasingly indoctrinated  into radical mindset, they may go from the comfort of their own home to expressing their ideas in the streets and possibly toward the world at large.

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