Thursday, June 17, 2010

DHS Plans For Homegrown Threat Questioned, "We did not know that Al-Shabaab was recruiting our kids to Somalia until they disappeared after visits to violent jihad websites"

FOX NEWS....As the U.S. government mulls ways to stem the rising threat of homegrown terrorism, some Republicans on Capitol Hill have privately raised concerns over new policies and tactics being considered. But counterterrorism officials say such resistance is undermining national security and can only be explained by a "misunderstanding" of the facts or political gamesmanship.

"We support the development of counter-radicalization policies that will protect our communities," four House Republicans recently told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a letter obtained by Fox News. "However, we are concerned about the development of policy that is based on poor research, flawed assumptions and insufficient inquiry. A flawed policy could ... worsen our radicalization problem." Specifically, the letter expresses concern that counterterrorism officials could act prematurely and rely too heavily on a community-based approach, which embraces grassroots-level relationships and outreach programs to produce intelligence and steer vulnerable populations away from extremist rhetoric.

According to the June 3 letter, Napolitano has already sent officials to the United Kingdom to learn about the British government's "Preventing Violent Extremism" program, whose website describes local government and local communities as "the heart" of stopping radicalization.
"Supporters of the [program] are more readily found in Washington, D.C., than in the U.K.," said the letter, signed by two members of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. "We are concerned DHS [Department of Homeland Security] officials may be giving disproportionate focus to the U.K.'s model at the expense of other historical and contemporary counter-radicalization models."

Counterterrorism officials insist they're analyzing several models from around the world, adding that such "political attacks" impede potentially life-saving efforts to address a "new phase in the threat." "While the federal government has put resources into threats originating from outside the country, [recent] events have shown that we need to build the same capabilities to deal with domestic threats," one law enforcement official who deals with terrorism issues said. "We can't always rely on the idea that a potential threat will be on the radar of the intelligence community or [federal law enforcement]."

In fact, an intelligence bulletin issued by DHS in the wake of the failed Times Square bombing said federal authorities "face an increased challenge in detecting terrorist plots underway" in the United States.  "State, local, tribal and private sector partners play a critical role in identifying suspicious activities and raising the awareness of federal counterterrorism officials," the May 21 bulletin said. "For example, purchases of possible operational materials, such as those made by ... [alleged Times Square bomber Faisal] Shahzad, are unlikely to come to the attention of federal officials unless reported by private sector and state, local and tribal partners."

A spokesman for McCaul said there is "nothing political" about the letter sent to Napolitano, describing it as "four members of [Congress] who are legitimately concerned about the approach DHS is taking." The back-and-forth between Republicans and counterterrorism officials comes only weeks after a DHS-sanctioned advisory panel, tasked by Napolitano in February to look at the issue, completed a "working draft" of recommendations for countering homegrown threats, including threats from more than just Islamic extremists.

"Information-driven, community based violent crime reduction efforts should be recognized as a critical element of national efforts to protect the homeland from terrorism and other threats," says the 30-page draft of recommendations, which was obtained by Fox News.

The draft identifies "key elements" for applying such violent crime models to "ideological-motivated crime," including bolstering relationships between law enforcement and community members, and increasing the flow of information to community members.
In recent cases of homegrown terrorism, one DHS official said, suspects went through changes that were "very visible to the people around them," such as a "noticeable shift" in their personalities, a more outspoken anger against U.S. policy, or increased visits to "fringe" or "extremist" websites. The official said community members would be more inclined to report a potential threat to law enforcement if there is a stronger relationship between them.

As for sharing more threat-related information with community members, the official pointed to the case of at least 20 Somali-Americans from Minneapolis and elsewhere who were recruited over more than a year to join al-Shabaab, an Al Qaeda-linked group in East Africa. The official suggested some of the recruitment may have been prevented if families were informed earlier.

When federal authorities later met with families of the missing, the families said, "We did not know that al-Shabaab was trying to recruit our kids over to Somalia until our kids disappeared," according to the official.

But working with local communities has its risks, which was noted during a House hearing in March titled "Working With Communities to Disrupt Terror Plots." Some Republicans worried authorities could "start giving legitimacy" to organizations that surreptitiously support terrorist groups, and McCaul, one of the four signatories on the recent letter to Napolitano, pointed to the case of Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado airport shuttle bus driver who planned a bomb attack on the New York City subway system.

"Working with a local imam actually backfired on law enforcement when he alerted Zazi that he was under government surveillance," McCaul said during the hearing. Zazi was eventually arrested and pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges.

While the council's working draft of recommendations does refer to "terrorism" several times, it leaves out mention of any religion, instead referring to "violent extremism" and "ideological-motivated crime," including the "Ft. Hood shooting," in which a Muslim Army major killed 13 in November 2009.  MORE FROM THIS SOURCE..........
Bill Warner Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM