The US has been attacked by what appears to be another lone-wolf terrorist acting in the name of Islam. Attacks of this kind are increasing and we in the US must evolve our thinking and approach to this evolving threat. Europe should guard against complacency about its degree of vulnerability to similar dangers, writes Commissioner David Aguilar.
The threat of such attacks is probably greater in the US because of terrorists’ intent to strike at the leading promoter of western values. However, as a country built on integrating immigrants from diverse backgrounds into a common culture, the US has deep and extensive experience in managing multiculturalism and assimilation.
By contrast, Europe is currently struggling to absorb large numbers of immigrants from regions where, for example, Islamic State (IS) is active. Europe lacks the procedures to properly identify, screen, and reliably manage such a large influx. It is certain that among the newcomers, there are elements that if not already recruited by IS, are sympathetic to its cause and targets for radicalization.
This is in addition to individuals with immigrant backgrounds who, on the surface, have fully integrated, yet may turn with violence against their adoptive country and its culture. As attacks over the past six months in Paris and Brussels have shown, such people can establish and align with terrorist networks to deadly effect.
Security establishments in European countries will do well to study the background to the Orlando and San Bernardino attacks and the more recent IS-inspired murder of a police officer and his wife in Paris for clues to potential lone wolf terrorist behaviour.
US security agencies will now analyse in depth how Orlando shooter Omar Mateen became radicalised and why, despite the fact he was on the FBI’s radar from 2013, his profile did not arouse greater concern. They are likely to ask, in particular, how he passed through the vetting procedure of his employer, the security firm G4S.
The US is likely to develop new systems to identify potential targets for radicalization and better tools, including the use of new technologies, to spot changes in an individual’s behaviour that could indicate radicalization and preparation for terrorist activity. Going forward we must explore all promising areas for cooperation between US and European security agencies given both Europe’s and the US’s need to rapidly develop the capabilities to identify potential sources of terrorism.
The US will also need to consider revising laws and regulations for investigating threats of this kind, including the value of constraints on monitoring suspects before they trigger red flags. European countries will need to take similar steps to generate improved detection and deterrence capability.
There are no silver bullet solutions to this new security challenge. In addition to enhanced intelligence activity, individual citizens need to exercise responsibility by being vigilant and reporting suspicious activity. Often the best eyes and ears on the ground are in communities. In addition, local authorities and business need to play their role in developing risk mitigation plans to cope with lone gunmen on a mission to kill.
The US and our EU friends take pride in our long-standing alliances and our partnership against terror. We now face what I believe is a “new normal” way of life and an evolving threat. We must evolve with the threat and develop effective strategies for countering violent extremism, detecting signs of potential radicalization, and identifying individuals who may pose threats.
Original article posted on EU Reporter.