Most terrorist plots are still foiled using traditional law-enforcement legwork

November 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

So says a study by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions. Contributors to the report examined 86 plots over the last decade. In nearly all, law enforcement became aware at the first signs of trouble, or the government received tips from citizens, not from counterterrorism intelligence gathering. The researchers acknowledge, however, that they may be underestimating the role of intelligence because some foiled plots are never publicized. Still, many of the earliest hints of would-be attacks aren’t exactly subtle. It’s no surprise that threats against a target, extremist rants and crimes such as robbery or identity theft routinely raise the suspicion of alert citizens and police. The report also urged counterterrorism officials and experts to broaden their focus beyond Al-Qaeda and its allies. Racial profiling could ultimately alienate people in the best position to know of dangerous plans early on and may actually be counterproductive. To enhance counterterrorism efforts, first responders should prioritize suspicious activities, while state and local agencies should continue working to improve information sharing. The report’s findings show how personal information collected in massive databases without a specific threat in mind may not always contribute meaningfully to the war on terror. Homeland security officials hope such systems will enable them to detect crime and terrorism early by showing patterns that common police work might otherwise miss. Department of Homeland Security has spent over $426 million on centers for collecting data across localities and agencies. (center for investigative reporting)

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