Terrorism and Homeland Security
Defining terrorism has proven to be difficult at best. What one person considers terrorism, another person views it as their freedom. The definition of terrorism provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”. The FBI classifies terrorism one of two ways, domestic or international.
Domestic terrorism is defined as “activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law; appear to intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy a government by intimidation or coercion, or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; that occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States”.
International terrorism is defined as “activities that involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violates federal or state law; appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum”.
The Department of Homeland Security was established in 2002, as a result of the infamous terrorist 9/11 attacks on American. The mission of this department is to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This department consists of more than 240,000 employees from an array of job titles such as cybersecurity analysts, aviation and border security, and emergency response to name a few.
Investigators use many techniques when investigating terror attacks. Most terrorist often engage in other criminal activities such as white-collar crimes that include things such as insurance fraud, credit card fraud, identity, money laundering, etc. There is also the development of a multi-phase project which assists with identifying potential terrorist through Social Security Number misusage analysis and has proven beneficial. The FBI has a Terrorist Financing Operations Section that works closely with the Social Security Administration in verifying Social Security Numbers. Once the validity of the number is verified, investigators begin the task of searching for misuse, by checking immigration records, DMV records, military records, etc. If it is suspected that a number is being misused that information is relayed to the appropriate entity for follow up.
Electronic surveillance or wiretapping is also a technique that officers use. Another technique is pen registers, which record the numbers that are dialed from a telephone. All of these require a court order, in order to proceed. Some other forms of electronic surveillance that are utilized is drones, license plate readers, computer forensics, and subpoena of data stored in the cloud. There is also a device referred to as stingray tracking, which allows law enforcement to determine the location of a suspect’s cell phone. Sometimes it can even identify someone within close proximity.
Because terrorist will also use fake identification to enter the country, as well as to gain employment in an attempt to get established, it is important that officers learn how to recognize a fake identification cards and passports. Foreign terrorists have the need to move money, people, and weapons across borders in order to conduct their business. The NCTC (National Counterterrorism Center) publishes an annual Counterterrorism (CT) Calendar. This calendar contains terrorist groups, wanted terrorists, and dates that of significance that terrorists believe are of importance if planning an attack to commemorate a particular event. It would be beneficial for officers with the list of indicators identified within the calendar.
Officers also spend time familiarizing themselves with the different logos associated with different terrorist organizations. The emblems could be something as discreet as a piece of jewelry, or more visible such as on clothing, posters, and other reading materials.
Information gathering, and intelligence sharing is crucial in investigating terrorism. The cycle of collecting information is knowing the intelligence requirements that are needed for an investigation. The second stage would be planning and directing, which is led by the executive assistant director of the National Security Breach also a part of the FBI. The third stage is the collection of raw information from local, state, and feral investigations. Much of this information comes from sources such as interviews, surveillance, and searches. Fourth would be processing and exploitation of the raw information into a form that can be used by analysts. The final stage is dissemination of intelligence to consumers, whom decisions are made based off of the intelligence. Monitoring social media
Investigators will also gather financial information to detect networks linked to terrorist groups. This type of strategy makes a connection between the assets of terrorist groups based on their financial investigation.
Ultimately it is crucial to maintain an open and working relationship- with other law enforcement agencies. The FBI has joint terrorism task forces set out across many cities throughout the United States. This is the nations front line of defense. Each investigator carries their own case load, following FBI protocols and procedures.


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