Terrorist Group Efforts in the Homeland and the Strategy to Combat Them
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While the U.S. continues to remain vigilant in fighting the war on terror abroad, homegrown terrorism within the U.S. has remained a growing concern. Homegrown terrorists are not leaving the U.S. to receive training; instead they are being pushed to embrace jihadist propaganda and motivated to the point of violent extremism within the U.S. These individuals have the ability to utilize the Internet to provide them the ammunition and knowledge needed to conduct attacks. This thesis addresses how terrorist groups exploit the Internet to radicalize and recruit U.S.-based individuals; and the proposed programs aimed at solving this problem. The first chapter answers the question of how U.S. based individuals are becoming radicalized, especially given the U.S. posture of preventing terrorists from infiltrating the homeland. In observing the root causes of radicalization and how the Internet has transformed the way in which terrorist groups spread propaganda, I hypothesize that U.S.-based individuals are susceptible to self-radicalization. Through case study analysis, I was able to confirm that my hypothesis was correct under certain circumstances, in that U.S.-based individuals do not need to belong to a terrorist group in order to become radicalized. The second chapter addresses the question of how individuals in the U.S. are being recruited. Again, there are limited opportunities for members of terrorist groups to actively recruit individuals in the U.S. without law enforcement or intelligence agencies being notified. By examining the types of recruitment models and grounds (locations) utilized by terrorist groups to attract individuals, I hypothesize that terrorist groups primarily use the Internet to recruit individuals, thereby moving away from actual face-to-face interaction/recruitment methods. The case study analysis in this chapter disproved my hypothesis in that terrorist organizations primarily use the Internet to recruit because terrorist groups still prefer personal interactions via face to face to demonstrate the level of commitment by that group to the potential recruit. Using a case study comparison of three programs with different structures, the final chapter addresses how effective the CVE programs are in the U.S. By examining the current U.S. CVE strategy and some of the negative impacts that it has had on Muslim American communities, I hypothesize that government-led CVE programs contribute to the radicalization of individuals. While the case study results in this chapter indicate there may be connection between government led CVE programs and the alienation of Muslim communities, there is little to suggest these programs lead to the radicalization of individuals, thereby neither approving nor disproving my hypothesis. Each of the chapters addresses the threat of homegrown terrorism as fueled by terrorist groups and potential policy implications.