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CRS Domestic Terrorist Threat Congress Report

CRS Domestic Terrorist Threat Congress Report

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Published by Dan Feidt
Congressional Research Service points out domestic terrorism vs political activism nexus spinning out of control via http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/how-grand-juries-are-manipulated-fbi-intimidate-political-dissidents-and-radicals
Congressional Research Service points out domestic terrorism vs political activism nexus spinning out of control via http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/how-grand-juries-are-manipulated-fbi-intimidate-political-dissidents-and-radicals

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Published by: Dan Feidt on Oct 22, 2013
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11/09/2013

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CRS Report for Congress
 Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Domestic Terrorist Threat:Background and Issues for Congress
Jerome P. Bjelopera
Specialist in Organized Crime and TerrorismMay 15, 2012
Congressional Research Service
7-5700www.crs.govR42536
 
The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for CongressCongressional Research Service
Summary
The emphasis of counterterrorism policy in the United States since Al Qaeda’s attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) has been on jihadist terrorism. However, in the last decade, domesticterrorists— 
 people who
 
commit crimes within the homeland and draw inspiration from U.S.-based extremist ideologies and movements
 —have killed American citizens and damaged property acrossthe country. Not all of these criminals have been prosecuted under terrorism statutes. This latter  point is not meant to imply that domestic terrorists should be taken any less seriously thanother terrorists.The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) do not officiallylist domestic terrorist organizations, but they have openly delineated domestic terrorist “threats.”These include individuals who commit crimes in the name of ideologies supporting animal rights,environmental rights, anarchism, white supremacy, anti-government ideals, black separatism, andanti-abortion beliefs.The boundary between constitutionally protected legitimate protest and domestic terrorist activityhas received public attention. This boundary is especially highlighted by a number of criminalcases involving supporters of animal rights—one area in which specific legislation related todomestic terrorism has been crafted. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (P.L. 109-374) expandsthe federal government’s legal authority to combat animal rights extremists who engage incriminal activity. Signed into law in November 2006, it amended the 1992 Animal EnterpriseProtection Act (P.L. 102-346).Five discussion topics in this report may help explain domestic terrorism’s significance for  policymakers:
 
Level of Activity.
Domestic terrorists have been responsible for orchestratingmore than two-dozen incidents since 9/11, and there appears to be a growth inanti-government extremist activity as measured by watchdog groups in the lastseveral years.
 
Use of Nontraditional Tactics.
A large number of domestic terrorists do notnecessarily use tactics such as suicide bombings or airplane hijackings.
 
Exploitation of the Internet.
Domestic terrorists—much like their jihadistanalogues—are often Internet savvy and use the medium as a resource for their operations.
 
Decentralized Nature of the Threat.
Many domestic terrorists rely on theconcept of 
leaderless resistance.
This involves two levels of activity. On anoperational level, militant, underground, ideologically motivated cells or individuals engage in illegal activity without any participation in or directionfrom an organization that maintains traditional leadership positions andmembership rosters. On another level, the above-ground public face (the“political wing”) of a domestic terrorist movement may focus on propaganda andthe dissemination of ideology—engaging in protected speech.
 
Prison Radicalization.
Prison has been highlighted as an arena in which terroristradicalization can occur. Some prison gangs delve into radical or extremistideologies that motivate domestic terrorists, and in a number of instances, these
 
The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for CongressCongressional Research Service
ideologies are integral to fashioning cohesive group identities within prisonwalls. It must be reiterated, however, that even for gangs that exhibit theseideological dimensions, criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking—not radical beliefs—largely drive their activities.Congress may choose to consider issues in three areas regarding the federal role in combatingdomestic terrorism. First is the issue of definitions. It is difficult to assess the scope of domesticterrorism because federal agencies use varying terms to describe it. Even more basically, there isno clear sense of how many domestic terrorist attacks have occurred or how many plots thegovernment has foiled in recent years. Second, Congress may review the adequacy of domesticterrorism intelligence collection efforts. For intelligence gathering and program prioritization purposes, there is no standard set of intelligence collection priorities across federal agencies thatcan be applied to domestic terrorism cases. Also, there likely is no established standard for thecollection of intelligence from state and local investigators—aside from suspicious activityreporting. Finally, it may be of value to explore how domestic terrorism fits into the ObamaAdministration’s community outreach-driven strategy to quell terrorism-related radicalization inthe United States. Congress may query the Administration on which brand of domestic terroristsit plans to focus on under the strategy and which local community groups it intends to engageregarding domestic terrorism issues.

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