The best way to protect citizens and infrastructure from terrorist attacks is to be prepared for them. According to Lewis (2019), there was no such concept as critical infrastructure protection in the United States before the 1990s. However, the 9/11 attack altered the entire direction of homeland security, requiring constant preparation and monitoring for potential threats, resulting in the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on November 25, 2002 (Bullock et al., 2017; Lewis, 2019). Furthermore, officials described homeland security as “the intersection of evolving threats and hazards with traditional governmental and civic responsibilities for civil defense, emergency response, law enforcement, customs, border control, and immigration” (Bullock et al., 2017, p. 23).
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Despite the broad spectrum of responsibilities and tasks, the central function of DHS is to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. The objective of this paper is to develop recommendations for a mayor to solve the issues of homeland security efforts to combat terrorism. Since prevention of the problem is the most effective solution, improving websites and social media surveillance by a special IT team can help counter these threats.
Although the United States has a weaker terrorist network than other countries, Americans are still in danger of extremist actions and influence that need to be disrupted. For example, apart from a traditional suicide bombing, they use biological and chemical threats that can impose significant health damage on U.S. citizens. Therefore, creating the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives office in 2017 aimed to protect people from potential hazards of domestic groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, and international extremist groups, like al-Qaeda (Bullock et al., 2017; McElreath et al., 2021).
However, the American government’s tools for two decades were costly and moderately effective because extremist groups continue to spread their ideology and fear online (McElreath et al., 2021). Indeed, many of these organizations have their websites and pages on social media (McElreath et al., 2021). Thus, improving social media surveillance can assist in finding temporary and permanent offices of terrorist groups. Although blocking these websites can protect citizens from exposure to this information, an in-depth assessment of their online actions is more effective for the complete eradication of these groups.
The underlying cause of terrorism is complex because it goes beyond the clash of political values. According to criminological theory, the leaders of this organization made a reasoned choice to invest money in mass murders while their followers have a social influence (McElreath et al., 2021). Although the proposed solution to monitor extremist web pages cannot change their mindset, it can target these groups’ founders if trained people assess these sites.
Therefore, the immediate action that should be taken to implement this solution is to create an IT team responsible for surveillance and tracking. A group of professionals will focus only on this task, eliminating the need to remove DHS employees from their primary duties. The buy-in among the invested parties will be a short deadline of two months for the first significant results for the team. After establishing online communication with terrorists, the long-term action should be identifying their permanent location, which is an essential part of an entire operation. The buy-in among invested parties will be arresting members of these extremist groups.
To summarize, the issue of domestic and international terrorism is still critical for the United States. Thus, this paper proposes implementing websites and social media monitoring by an exceptional IT team to assess extremist activity, establish contact with them, and track their location. The ultimate goal of this operation will be to prevent potential attacks and determine these groups’ offices. Finally, the success of this solution will be measured based on the number of threats stopped and terrorists arrested.
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Bullock, J., Haddow, G., & Coppola, D. P. (2017). Homeland security: The essentials. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Lewis, T. G. (2019). Critical infrastructure protection in homeland security: Defending a networked nation. John Wiley & Sons.
McElreath, D. H., Doss, D. A., Russo, B., Etter, G., Van Slyke, J., Skinner, J., Corey, M., Jensen III, C. J., Wiggington, M., & Nations, R. (2021). Introduction to homeland security (3rd ed.). CRC Press.