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The threat of terror attacks is growing in the United States despite the effort that has been put in place to deal with the problem. According to Olsson (2014), understanding the steps necessary for addressing a terror attack is critical in mitigating the effect of such incidences. The security organs such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other local enforcement agencies have a major role to play in protecting the country against potential attacks.
However, Southers (2015) argues that civilians also have a role to play in enhancing security in the country. In most cases, these criminals mingle freely with civilians as they plan for their attack. Contacting authorities at the right time may be crucial in ensuring that such attacks are thwarted at the planning stage before they are executed. In this paper, the researcher seeks to explain why an understanding of the steps involved in preparing for countering and responding to a terror attack is important in protecting national security and the safety of people and property.
Preparing for a Terror Attack
Preparation is an important step in combatting terrorism in the country. Both the security agencies and civilians should embrace their role in protecting their country. Civilians need to learn about ways of detecting suspicious activities and the best ways of contacting authorities so that further investigations can be conducted. On the other hand, security organs must learn how to work with civilians to collect intelligence and act on them in a timely manner.
As Alati (2018) observes, society must understand that fear is the enemy. When people are fearful of the terrorist, they will not act rationally. They will fail to report suspicious activities, making it easy for these criminals to thrive. Society must understand the fact that the only way of fighting this vice is to be fearless and to face the situation as active players. Instead of allowing fear to consume them, members of society should create fear among these criminals.
Preparing for a possible terrorism alert is another important. All the stakeholders should learn how to respond to possible terror alarms (Newman & Clarke, 2008). Issues such as knowing when and how to evacuate protect property and lives, and launch counterattacks can help reduce fatalities and destruction. Members of the public should be attentive to details relating to a possible terror attack and question any suspicious activities within their neighborhood. They need to understand the local vulnerabilities while at the same time recognizing the limits of the government in taking out these criminals. As Szpunar (2018) notes, the government may not arrest these criminals until it is ascertained that they are planning an attack.
Understanding the Threat
Understanding the threat that society faces in the fight against terrorism is another crucial step in dealing with this problem. According to Southers (2015), society should view terrorism as a crime instead of an act of retaliation or seeking justice. Victims of such attacks are innocent individuals who have nothing to do with what these terrorists are fighting against in the country. This crime comes in many forms such as the actual use of weapons of mass destruction against Americans or spreading hate messages that may convince others to use weapons against a section of the society.
One should not waste time thinking about motives but focus on bringing down these criminals (Alati 2018). It is also necessary to spend more time discussing how likely the attack might occur instead of what if it occurs. Security experts often warn against overstating the risk of a foreign attack as a way of discouraging such acts. Instead, emphasis should be to trace them down and bring them to justice as soon as possible. When their attack is underrated, these criminals would fail in creating fear among citizens. When planning to counter a terror attack, it is strongly advised that both members of the public and security organs should beware of domestic terrorists. These criminals easily mingle with innocent citizens as they plan their attacks.
Developing a Plan and a Support Network
Developing an effective plan and a support network is crucial when addressing potential terror attacks in the country. The team involved in addressing this problem should understand all the bases of counterterrorism. From the initial stage of gathering intelligence to making arrests and responding promptly in cases of attack, the team should always be fully prepared. Schmermund (2016) explains that it is crucial to work with the business community. They can help in the process of gathering crucial intelligence, especially those selling arms and ammunition to civilians. They can inform relevant authorities when an individual is purchasing deadly weapons that can be used in mass murders. They can also be involved in risk management in cases of attack.
Collaborating with private security agencies may help in addressing the growing problem of domestic terrorism in the country. According to Newman and Clarke (2008), these private security officers can help in a speedy response to any security threat. These officers are often well trained and properly equipped to neutralize an attack before government agencies can arrive. However, Szpunar (2018) advises that such an arrangement requires a proper preparation. These private security officers should be trained on how to act when there is an attack and how to coordinate with law enforcement agencies. The government is strongly advised to target terrorism funds as a way of paralyzing their activities.
American citizens have a major role in fighting terrorism by helping various government instruments in gathering intelligence. The emergence of local joint terrorism task forces is meant to create platforms where citizens can share information they have with the FBI or other security organs within their locality. Understanding one’s behavioral change may be one of the ways that people can detect when those around them are planning an attack. Social media may offer a clue about the intentions of an individual. According to Olsson (2014), while promoting intelligence-led policing, it is important for everyone involved to know their limits. One should separate dreams and stereotypes from realities when sharing intelligence.
Victimization should not be excused in the name of fighting terrorism. For instance, the use of video cameras to monitor the activities of a suspected criminal gang should be done in a way that does not breach one’s privacy.
Schmermund (2016) warns against over-relying on public vigilance. Security agents should do their work of tracking the activities of these criminals. Although the immigrant communities may form a natural target when fighting radicalization, authorities should avoid unjustified harassment because it may only worsen the situation. Public awareness campaigns about terrorism should be promoted across the country. The government should make community policy the first life of defense when fighting these criminals (Newman & Clarke, 2008). These efforts would help reduce cases of terror attacks in the country.
Alati, D. (2018). Domestic counter-terrorism in a global world: Post-9/11 institutional structures and cultures in Canada and the United Kingdom. New York, NY: Routledge.
Newman, G. R., & Clarke, R. V. (2008). Policing terrorism: An executive’s guide. Falls Church, VA: United States Department of Justice.
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Olsson, P. A. (2014). The making of a homegrown terrorist: Brainwashing rebels in search of a cause. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International.
Schmermund, E. (2016). Domestic Terrorism. New York, NY: Greenhaven Publishing LLC.
Southers, E. (2015). Homegrown violent extremism (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Szpunar, P. M. (2018). Homegrown: Identity and difference in the American war on terror. New York, NY: New York University.