For Christ and Country,
“Any terrorist seizure of territory, meanwhile, would be viewed as particularly dangerous. When terrorists control territory, they can create training camps that indoctrinate new recruits and provide training on bomb-making, document forgery, assassination, and other dangerous tactics. In addition, controlling territory gives the group legitimacy and undermines the authority of the state. Even small safe houses are dangerous. In 2016, Ammon Bundy and several followers seized control of the headquarters building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, claiming that federal land should be turned over to the states to manage. The result was a siege that lasted more than a month, with the participants eventually being arrested—and one killed when he resisted. Under the new system, the radicals would still be given a chance to surrender, and if the police and FBI could arrest them without risk, they would do so. But the situation would not be allowed to persist for days, let alone weeks. In addition, if the danger were deemed high, then taking domestic terrorists out via snipers, drones, or other standoff means would be considered acceptable.“
“U.S. law enforcement, intelligence, and counter-messaging professionals should apply the law aggressively to prevent and disrupt violent activity while leaving individuals espousing the same ideas to protest in peace. History professor and former senior government official Philip Zelikow calls for shutting down groups that seek to create private militias—that is, the ones that are not “well-regulated
” by the states. The Charlottesville marchers, for example, are more like an organized rival to the state rather than individuals acting on their own because they involve organizations with membership rolls, leaders, and even uniforms responding to a common call. This approach balances public safety concerns and First Amendment protections. This standard also works well for domestic Islamist groups, even if they champion ideas most Americans find objectionable.
If the non-jihadist terrorism problem continues to grow, the United States should also consider having a carefully worded domestic terrorism statute at the federal level along with an associated list of designated organizations. This would enable the federal government to step in more effectively, using its resources and legal power, if a group becomes a greater danger. Many of the measures described above would represent too much of a change, and any legislation should factor in counterterrorism measures we don’t want as well as ones we do. Suspicion of authority is at a high point, and even the perception that the government might abuse new powers could worsen this even more. The language should be tightly worded and subject to regular legislative oversight—the definition of a foreign terrorist organization is broad, and any domestic legislation should focus heavily on the threat or use of violence and be regularly reviewed to ensure that changes in group behavior are reflected.
Even without such a legislative change, the government must allocate an appropriate level of funding and manpower to domestic terrorism. The right-wing threat in particular is comparable to that of jihadist violence at home, and similar resources should be allocated to addressing it. The FBI and DHS should create larger offices dedicated to domestic groups and otherwise develop their intelligence presence. Some of the resources used for jihadist violence could be transferred with little loss.
Finally, Americans should recognize the responsibilities of nonviolent organizations that contain radical members or cross paths with them. Just as Muslim-Americans are a vital source of information on suspected ISIS supporters, so too should other mainstream communities and organizations feel compelled to point out the few troublemakers in their midst. Nonviolent pro-life advocacy groups should, for example, monitor comment threads on forums for indicators of violent activity. We want the line between violence and nonviolence to be bright, but this puts some moral onus on legitimate groups to police themselves rather than shrug off violence as the work of a few bad actors.”