The Boston Tragedy Reveals the Need for Community-Based Counterterrorism Strategies
Huffington Post - 04/25/2013
As part of the Boston community, we share the sadness of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. Thanks to excellent police work and public cooperation, Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev were identified as the perpetrators and are reportedly unaffiliated with any larger terrorist network. But going forward, how can law enforcement increase its ability to identify would-be terrorists operating below the radar?
Experts point out that many terrorist groups like al Qaeda are increasingly decentralized, making them difficult to monitor and infiltrate. Experts also highlight the limited ability of the federal counterterrorism infrastructure to identify independent terrorist cells and lone wolf terrorists; the difficulty of identifying readers of extremist propaganda; and, most importantly, the challenges determining which individuals will turn to violent action. In this case, the FBI questioned Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, possibly about his interest in extremist Internet propaganda or ties to Chechnya, but apparently lacked sufficient information to detain him further. With this in mind, how can law enforcement gain the intelligence necessarily to stop potential terrorists before they act?