The Department of Homeland Security was set up to access and develop strategies to meet potential security threats. After the 9/11 terrorist attack, the department had to change and fine tune its structures to address domestic security. It therefore set up a taskforce that came up with the report titled; Future of Terrorism Task Force (2007). Report of the Future of Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security Advisory Council, Department of Homeland Security, January 2007. This paper highlights the most important recommendations among those that were proposed by the taskforce.
One of the recommendations was setting up an Office of Net Assessment (ONA) in the Department of Homeland Security that will be entrusted with analyzing possible future threats to the U.S.A and how they can be countered. Terrorists keep on changing their techniques based on their past successes and failures thus creating an ever changing security environment. Terrorist also keep on embracing new technologies and weapons that are more lethal. It is therefore important to learn these new trends, analyze them and develop strategies to avert any possible threats.
The secretary should regularly analyze the Quadrennial Security Review of every security threats, strategies and plans comprehensively. Department of Homeland security should have the ability to quickly respond to unforeseen threats. Although terrorists sometimes hint that they may attack, it is almost impossible to determine with accuracy when and where they will attack. Therefore, regular analysis will enable the secretary to predict what the threats may be and determine the appropriate tools required to counter them. It will also improve their preparedness to respond to security threats even on short notices.
Undertaking National Intelligent Estimate (NIE) in conjunction with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to address both domestic and foreign threats was also recommended. Potential security threats to U.S.A are not only instigated abroad, some originate from within and are carried out by citizens. For example in 2001, Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized citizen of USA, tried to bomb Times Tower and in 2009, Nidal Hassan ,who is also an American citizen, killed 13 people and left 30 other people wounded by detonating a bomb at the Fort Hood Army base (Johnson, 2010). A successful review must comprise potential domestic threats.
Department of homeland security must recruit different professionals with diverse skills, worldviews, languages, perspectives and cultural backgrounds. There is a huge difference in cultures of Muslim communities and the west. This creates difficulties in efforts to counter terrorists’ activities mostly done by Muslim extremist. Therefore, recruiting people of different cultural backgrounds will bridge the cultural gap and create stronger rapport with Muslim communities. The department should also identify avenues to initiate dialogue with the Muslim leaders and communities. This will go a long way in cultivating understanding, respect and trust. Trust is very important in all diplomatic attempts to counter terrorism.
Muslim outreach programs play an important role in fostering understanding. Local communities should be in the forefront in the development and implementation of Muslim outreach programs. Each community is unique therefore requiring different outreach models. Local communities will thus be in a better position to develop a model that will be successful with the Muslim community in their locality. Hence, Department of Homeland security should financially support and encourage outreach efforts made by local communities. Examples of Muslim outreach programs are Afghan American Muslim Outreach (AAMO) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) (Nakhleh, 2009).
Department of Homeland Security should work together with the state, community leaders and the private sector to educate them about the potential threats of radicalization and the need of taking precautionary measures at the local level. Home-grown terrorism has increased in many parts of Europe and in USA. Between 2001 and 2009, the government of USA has reported at least 46 incidents of local radicalization or recruitment to jihadist movements (King, 2010). There is therefore need to address the possibility of radicalization. Increased globalization and modern information and communication technologies makes it easier for radicals to influence people worldwide. Community based measures aimed at eradication of circumstances that may allow extremist ideas to spread should be developed.
The Department of Homeland Security must work in conjunction with the local correction officials, Department of Justice and the state in developing a program to prevent radicalization of prisoners. A lot of radical literature finds its way into state prisons. With widespread technology, prisoners can still radicalize via internet and mail when they are behind bars. Prisoners use violation of their civil rights to justify their activities. Creating a system that can monitor former inmates will also help in reducing terrorism.
Sharing information remains an important arsenal in the fight against terrorism. The department should create a conducive environment for sharing information between itself and the state, local communities, private sector and other governments. The success of the Department of Homeland Security will depend on its ability to receive information on time and act on it. It should therefore invest in creating channels of receiving relevant information about potential threats on a timely basis.
The department should create more channels for international cooperation and partnerships so that a global network that facilitates information sharing and a robust intelligence is maintained. In order to fight terrorism, collaboration with other states is necessary. This will ensure terrorists do not have safe haven that they can hide and train recruits. To succeed in fighting terrorism, there is need to reduce state support given to Al-Qaeda and other extremist movements in the Muslim countries .USA will not achieve this by the might of its military but by diplomacy. The USA needs to invest more in public relations with other countries.