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Practical Terrorism Prevention: Executive Summary

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Technical Report

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Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center Washington United States

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Terrorism prevention policy and programs aim to reduce the risk of terrorism by applying tools and approaches other than the traditional law enforcement and criminal justice tools of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Current federal terrorism prevention efforts subsume past activities referred to as countering violent extremism CVE, including such efforts as countering extremist messages online, community engagement by law enforcement and other organizations, and educating community members to recognize warning signs of radicalization to violence. Consistent with the National Strategy for Counterterrorism, current terrorism prevention efforts emphasize building effective partnerships between law enforcement, civil society, social service agencies, and communities. In the United States, the development of policy in this area has focused on the local radicalization to violence of individuals exposed to extremist content on the internet, citizens interacting with representatives of terrorist organizations abroad, and attacks and attempted attacks by individuals inspired either by foreign terrorist organizations or by ideologies of domestic origin. Current terrorism prevention and past CVE efforts in the United States have been controversial. Since these efforts often respond to activities that are not crimes, there are serious concerns regarding the potential to infringe on constitutionally protected rights, stigmatize individuals and communities, or damage trust between the government and the public. It is difficult to know who to focus on for terrorism prevention efforts, given that there are no unambiguous early indicators of future violent behavior and limited means available to distinguish those individuals who appear to be threats from those who actually do pose a threat. Past CVE efforts have been criticized for focusing disproportionately on Muslim communitiescreating both stigma and prejudice.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare

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