Can the U.S. Prevent Future Acts of Domestic Terrorism?

Topics: Terrorism, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency Pages: 44 (17193 words) Published: April 18, 2012
Can the U.S. Prevent Future Acts of Domestic Terrorism?
A Research Study of Extremist Terrorism and the Role of the U.S. Intelligence Community

Pete Dwyer
03/20/2012
Thesis / Research Paper
GWU Security & Safety Leadership

Abstract of Project
While terrorism is not a new phenomenon to the human race, the past ten years have ushered in a previously unfamiliar rise in terrorism attacks on U.S. domestic soil. This problem has posed a significant challenge to U.S. national security which both government and commercial entities have so far struggled to adequately address and prevent. This research project focuses on the rise in domestic terrorism in the U.S. over the last decade, beginning with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The 9/11 attacks provide a starting point to compare and contrast findings from subsequent acts of domestic terrorism in order to evaluate improvements (and lack thereof) over the same period of time. Findings include action and behavior trends by terrorists and intelligence community/law enforcement personnel in a number of high-profile terrorist cases. Gathered research can provide substantial proof as to the government’s (i.e. intelligence community’s) ability to prevent or at least capably respond to future acts of terrorism in the U.S.

Table of Contents
Introduction.……………………………………………………………………………………...1 Argument and Approach………………………………………………………………………..4 Literature Review………………………………………………………………………………..7 Methodology…………………………………………………………………………………….12 Research…………………………………………………………………………………………16

Case 1: Christmas 2009 Northwest Airlines Underwear Bomber…………………….…16 Case 2: 2009 Fort Hood Lone Terrorist Shooting……………………...…………………23 Case 3: 2009 Fountain Place Bombing Attempt in Dallas, Texas…..……………………31

Case 4: 2010 New York City Times Square Bomber………………..…….……………...39 Findings………………………………………………………………………………………….45 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………56 References……………………………………………………………………………………….59

Introduction
The Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, 2001 marked a turning point for many facets of American life. American citizens started viewing the world through a different looking-glass. People in New York City and Washington, D.C. witnessed first-hand that their lives could be profoundly changed by the distant events and opinions of people they were not familiar with half a world away; all other Americans watched in horror as the events unfolded live on national television and were replayed again and again. The events revealed that the U.S. government was a general target for likely future attacks. All federal departments and agencies and the people who worked for them were now possible targets merely because of their affiliation with the U.S. government. This reality called for reconsideration of established practices and wide-sweeping change, some more than others. Specifically, the U.S. Intelligence Community realized it had to change its practices and procedures to detect and counter the emerging threat of terrorism against U.S. citizens and entities. The question quickly emerged as to whether the U.S. Intelligence Community could effectively prevent future acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens and entities.

In reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a government-sponsored commission was established by the U.S. Congress and President Bush. This committee was named the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, or what has more frequently been referred to as The 9/11 Commission. The commission was established to “investigate ‘facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, “including those relating to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, diplomacy, immigration issues and border control, the flow of assets to terrorist organizations, commercial aviation, the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation, and other areas determined relevant by...

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BBC News. “Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty.” 21 Jun, 2010, Web. 12 Dec, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10368329.
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