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Napolitano Issues Blunt Comments on Domestic Terror Threat

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Homeland Security(ORLANDO) -- Speaking before the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in Florida on Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano provided a more stark assessment of the domestic threat to the United States and the emergence of homegrown terrorism domestically.

Although Napolitano has been discussing the issue of homegrown terrorism more frequently over the past several months, her remarks Monday were blunt. “We’re operating under the premise that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist acts are in the country, and may carry out these acts of violence with little or no warning,” Napolitano said before the police group. 

One month ago, Napolitano had painted a similar picture before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee when she testified about the rise in homegrown terrorism threats.  At the September 22nd hearing, Napolitano said,  “A new and changing facet of the terrorist threat comes from homegrown terrorists.  And by which I mean, U.S. persons who are radicalized here and receive terrorist training either here or elsewhere, and bring knowledge of the United States and the West to terrorist organizations.  A clear trend in recent attacks has been the role of English language and online propaganda from operatives like al-Awlaki, a United States citizen, based in Yemen.”

In her speech Monday before the police group, the DHS Secretary again stated the concern of individuals that may be radicalized and recruited to support terrorist activities or undertake attacks here in the U.S., but cited the concern that many of these individuals may not be known to the U.S. Intelligence Community or law enforcement, “More and more, we’re seeing the increased role of Westerners, including U.S. citizens, engaged in terrorist training, planning, and attempted attacks...and many of these individuals are unknown to the Intelligence Community and unknown to federal authorities.  And that means traditional Intelligence Community efforts and travel analysis may not be enough to identify domestically-inspired terrorist planning and attacks.”

Napolitano cited a recent push to involve the public and raise awareness among the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity with the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to have people notify law enforcement if they view something that seems suspicious.  In an effort to try and get more information to state and local police officers Napolitano also said that DHS would be expanding the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting system to push new information about trends and items of interest to law enforcement agencies across the country.

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