The terrorist threat facing the United States is divided into domestic and international threats according to the FBI. Domestic terrorism involves using unlawful violence by a certain group of people which operate within the United States without any foreign assistance. International terrorism, on the other hand, involves the use of violent acts which are against United States criminal laws and are done by terrorists from countries abroad. They intimidate the local population or trying to influence the US government policies.
The terrorist threat during the past decade has greatly developed where the right wing extremists such as Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has become more dangerous than left wing terrorism. Since 1996, they have committed approximately 650 criminal acts which have caused damages of more than 40 million dollars. Terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States since the great 9/11 terrorist act which affected over 3000 victims who were mostly civilians (Maples, 2007).
The United States however has moved fast to prevent international terrorism against the US through Legal Attach offices (Legats) located around the world so as to ensure resources are available to support FBIs counterterrorism policies international terrorism. The counterterrorism started investigating the Sunni extremism after the World Trade Centre bombing and other jihad movements, and it paid off since they uncovered many plans by terrorist groups to bomb landmarks throughout the US.
The domestic terrorist groups also have been listed as very harmful to the country. The United States also have categorized them into two broad categories- right-wing and left-wing terrorist organization. The right-wing terrorist groups include the Aryan Nations, the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) and the National Alliance which uses racism-based hatred propagation to carry on their activities (Clapper, 2014). These groups defend their acts of racial supremacy and anti-regulatory beliefs through constitution because the constitution guarantees freedom of speech and assembly and only the law enforcement agencies work on them if their talk results to illegal action. In 1999, they were responsible two out of seven thwarted terrorism acts which could have led to high casualties.
The left wing terrorist groups included Armed Forces for Puerto Rican National Liberation (FALN) who are under the extremist Puerto Rican separatist groups. They use capitalism and imperialism such that they argue that they are protecting the people from the ultimate effects of those acts. Through that doctrine, they can infuse distrust within the minds of people on the government, and this will be dangerous since people will start supporting them and revolve against the government (Clapper, 2014). They posed serious threats to the United States during the 1960s to 1980s, but the law enforcement in late 1980s dismantled their infrastructure which led to communism in Eastern Europe o fall.
The special interest terrorism which is separate from right-wing and left-wing terrorist groups seek to resolve specific issues through politically motivated violence with the aim of changing general public attitudes towards the government. The environmental movement and animal rights movement have used vandalism and terrorism acts to raise their issues. The ALF and ELF recently have committed terrorism acts like seven terrorist incidences in 2001 and attack on Vail ski resort in 1998 where there was arson fire attack which caused damages of about 12 million dollars (Finklea, 2009).
The United States government has categorized international terrorists into three categories; sponsored terrorists formalized terrorists and the radical global jihad movement. Sponsored terrorists are mostly sponsored by countries where they originate. The recent cases in the country are of countries like Libya, Iran, and Sudan who have been accused of sponsoring terrorists to affect the peace stability in the United States (Spindlove & Simonsen, 2013). This has stalled international cooperation between the US and those countries since it is against foreign policy. Libya was accused to be behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988 where 270 people were killed (Maples, 2007). Iran also is the greatest threat to the US because they have always been supporting anti-western terrorism through financing and providing logistics.
Formalized terrorists are the second type where they include the Irish Republic Army, the Egyptian El-Gama Al-Islamiyya (IG), Palestine Hamas and Hizballah of Lebanon. They have their personnel, training facilities, and infrastructure which enable them to mount terrorist campaigns in international territory. FBI has listed Hizballah terrorist organization as the most dangerous to the United States since it receives funding and support from supporters living in the country and can support terrorism-related activities inside the US and at the same time planning terrorist campaigns on an international basis (Maples, 2007). Formal extremist organizations in recent years have carried out frequent attacks against the US.
Radical Islamist Jihadi terrorist organizations are the major threat to the United States. Al-Qaeda and Sunni Islamic extremists have been the most serious organizations because they are highly capable terrorist networks. They are willing to inflict a large scale destruction against the United States like the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa, 2000 case of bombing USS Cole, and the 2001 bombing of World Trade Organization Centre. The international terrorists organizations are composed of different individuals of varying races, nationalities, races, and ethnicities with the common aim of destroying US military forces. Sunni-main objective was to remove US forces from Palestine Gulf areas mostly in Saudi Arabia because the deemed them as enemies of Islam and that they are not ruled by sharia laws (Finklea, 2009).
Since that assault by Al-Qaeda Organization in 2001, several groups have emerged. ISIS organization which is very composed of different talents with members from many countries is the current group which attacks different parts of United States and all over Europe. ISIS has inflicted harm on United States political, social and economic domains because it needs proper strategies to control them which is very expensive (Spindlove & Simonsen, 2013).
Role of Lone Terrorist in a Domestic and International Terrorist Threat
Lone wolf attacks have become recent happenings in the United States. The cases of Omar Mateen who attacked Orlandos gay night club and killed 49 people and Micah Johnson who shot and killed five police officers in Dallas are some of the lone terrorists operating in the United States (Spindlove, & Simonsen, 2013). The individuals draw radicalization using online platforms which motivate them to attack the citizens. Since the 1940s, there are only about 100 attacks committed by single terrorists and which are politically motivated, but the Al-Qaeda groups and ISIS seem to have supported them recently (Spindlove, & Simonsen, 2013).
The case of Omar Mateen shooting in Orlando is a great threat since he swore allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a leader of the ISIL meaning that the international terrorists organization have a connection in one way or another in lone terrorist activities. The terrorist managed to kill many citizens and wounded several others which are among the deadliest mass shooting by a single actor in US history. Their role in international terrorism is evident because he was of Afghan origin and conducted the terror activity because of US involvement in Iraq and Syria wars and subsequent killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq.
The shooting has been classified by FBI as a hate crime and act of terrorism but under domestic terrorism. Radicalization gives rise to lone terrorists who also are inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.
Clapper, J. R. (2014). Worldwide threat assessment. Testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, April, 11(201), 3.
Finklea, K. M. (2009). Organized crime in the United States: Trends and Issues for Congress. DIANE Publishing.
Maples, L. G. M. D. (2007). Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States. January, 11, 20-25.
Spindlove, J. R., & Simonsen, C. E. (2013). Terrorism today: The past, the players, the future (5th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
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