Washington: US has made tackling homegrown
terrorists a top priority focus in the wake of series of
high-profile arrests of naturalised American citizens for
plotting major terror strikes in the country.
The focus is going to be sharp on the homegrown
terrorists, the National Security Advisor, General (rtd) James
Jones told reporters at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
"The appropriate agencies are at work. We are devoting an
awful lot of attention to this obviously, as some instances
have shown that we need to focus on this issue," he said.
The National Security Strategy, which was released by the
White House yesterday, also points out towards this for the
first time. The Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes,
said the Obama Administration is giving top priority to
domestic extremism issue.
"I think it's reflective of the fact that we view this as
an important and emerging challenge. I think that there has
been a clear shift, in some respects, in al-Qaeda's tactics,
to try to, insofar as their own space to train and operate has
been put under great pressure by the US and our partners, they
are less capable of operating in the kinds of safe havens they
had before, where they had lots of time and space to train,
they could bring recruits from different parts of the world
and have an extended period of time in one place to plan
operations," Rhodes said.
"But, being a nimble organisation and an adaptable one,
they've shifted, in some respects, to trying to inspire
others, particularly American citizens, to conduct attacks on
behalf of their agenda," he said.
In many instances, those terrorists who have tried to
undertake those attacks have not had the same extended period
of contact with al-Qaeda that, say, a Mohammed Atta had, or
some of the other terrorists or ringleaders of previous
operations, Rhodes noted.
"However, they present distinct challenges, because
they're American citizens. So, what we focused on in here is
the need to develop an approach that can deal with this
emerging threat from home-grown terrorism, and it's going to
have to be an approach that both has a security component
of it, so that we're capable of unraveling, disrupting, plots
whenever individuals in the US are in contact with foreign
terrorist organisations, insofar as we're able to detect that
activity," he said.
"But, it's also going to have to be an approach that
addresses radicalisation earlier, before an individual gets to
the point where they might try to be in contact with a foreign
terrorist organisation like al-Qaeda," he said.
"So, we talk about tailoring strategies to different
parts of the country, really, because different communities
around the country present different challenges. And, the
people who will know best as to whether there's a risk of
radicalisation in their community, are often citizens and
community leaders," he observed.
"So, what the government's going to have to do, at a
federal, state and local level is work in an effective basis
to prevent radicalisation, to address radicalization in
certain communities, and to, again, try to ensure that before
an individual reaches the point where they try to be in
contact with a foreign terrorist organisation, that we have a
strategy to stem that tide of radicalisation," Rhodes said.
The White House official said that a lot of the most
effective kind of community engagement that can address the
effects of radicalisation will have to take place, outside of
the security realm. "So, it's in the kind of context, it
involves law enforcement. It involves, insofar as it's
individuals trying to conduct terrorist attacks, it involves
our intelligence agencies," he said.
"But, it also involves effective community outreach and
effective programmes to be aware of both populations and
individuals that are being targeted for radicalisation by
foreign terrorist organisations," Rhodes said.
The National Security Strategy indicates that the US
views this as a challenge, he said. "We've stood up a
government activity to address this challenge, and it's placed
in the context of our resilience as a nation and our homeland
security efforts," he said.
First Published: Friday, May 28, 2010, 16:01