Terrorism Prevention Program for Homeland Security


The Department of Homeland Security’s vision is a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards, where American interests, aspirations, and way of life can thrive.  In order to accomplish this, according to Chip Fulghum (2016), DHS employs over 225,000 people in jobs from border security to cybersecurity analysis and must work together to combat a wide range of threats.   With a wide array of job duties it is clear that their main goal is to keep America safe.

According to Roger Kemp (2012), “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally came into being as a standalone, Gabinet-level, department to further coordinate the unify national homeland security efforts, opening its doors on March 1,2003” (p. 28).  DHS’ primary mission is to prevent terrorism and enhance security.  Stopping and preventing terrorism is the keystone of DHS.  The threat of terrorism to the nation has advanced over the years since the last quadrennial review in 2010.  It remains real and even harder to detect.  An example of this evolution is the Boston Marathon bombing.  We are facing more “lone wolf” attackers that are inspired and encouraged by fanatical ideologies to radicalize to violence and commit deadly terrorist acts towards Americans.  These independent acts are the hardest to detect and DHS will remain vigilant in identifying and countering these threats.

DHS’ Priorities to Secure Against the Evolving Terrorism Threat

Identify, Investigate, and Interdict Threats as Early as Possible

Shrink the Haystack: Expand Risk Based Security

Focus on Countering Violent Extremism and Helping to Prevent Complex Mass Casualty Attacks

Reduce Vulnerabilities:  Deny Resources, Deny Targets

Uncover Patterns and Faint Signals: Enhance Data Integration and Analysis

Table 1

Identify, Investigate, and Interdict Threats as Early as Possible

Due to the present and development of potential attacks and threats, a prime concern is that these vicious fanatical can move undetected across boarders within conflict zones.  An example would be the conflicts in Syria and Yemen where they can train other like-minded people in tactics, skills, and weapons for the use of terrorism.  In addition to, many other nations are incapable of securing their own borders and prevent illegitimate movement of people and goods and the inability to collect customs revenues to support governance.  As a result, they are on the verge of state failure.

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DHS and the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice will address the vulnerabilities and improve the safe and protected movement of people and goods by prioritizing support to foreign partners to increase their border supervision, customs integrity, and the capacities and capabilities of their law enforcement.  In addition, it is vital to use the information we receive in advance to screen abroad based on risk instead of waiting to screen upon the arrival of the United States.

Shrink the Haystack:  Expand Risk-Based Security

Due to the decentralized nature of the present threat makes it important that we migrate away from a one-size-fits-all type of security approach and move in the direction of risk informed and intelligence-driven.  With this new mindset, DHS will focus more on identifying lower risk travelers and cargo in order to spend more time and resources on the people we know less about or pose a higher threat.  According to DHS, “Trusted traveler and shipper programs such as Global Entry, TSA Pre✓™, and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism advance these objectives and show that effective security and the expedited flow of goods and people can be achieved together” (DHS, 2017).  They will use several ways to identify lower risk travelers.  For example, they will use background check and recognize foreign partner trusted traveler programs.

Focus On Countering Violent Extremism and Helping to Prevent Complex Mass Casualty Attacks

DHS does not focus on just one form of one particular ideology or protected First Amendment activities, but rather all forms all forms of fanaticism when it comes to countering violent extremism within the U.S.  Their efforts to opposing vicious extremism highlight the power of local communities and the premise that well-informed and well-equipped families and communities represent the best defense against these violent acts.  DHS supports community based problem solving and local law enforcement programs in order to disrupt and deter recruitment to radicalized violence.  According to DHS, “DHS jointly develops with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners training for frontline law enforcement officers on behaviors that may be indicative of violent extremist activity” (DHS, 2017).

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Comparable research into non-ideologically motivated violence provides enhanced understanding into pre-incident behavioral indicators that are linked to mass violence.  This give DHS the ability to equip partners with the best tools to identify and mitigate an array of violent attacks.

Reduce Vulnerabilities:  Deny Resources, Deny Targets

Violent extremists will tend to seek out and attack symbolic venues, mass gathering, and critical infrastructure.  The best way to protect against these targets is to adopt approaches that are intelligence-led, analytical driven, and pursued in close collaboration with federal, state, local, and private sector partners in addition to the public.  The DHS “Security Strategy for Mass Transit and Passenger Rail” dives further into detail into how they have employed this approach to improve the security of our infrastructure.  According to DHS, “They will continue to increase an emphasis on deterrence, including enhancing efforts to publicly communicate tailored descriptions of homeland security capabilities to influence the perception, risk calculations, and behaviors of adversaries” (DHS, 2017).

Uncover Patterns and Faint Signals:  Enhance Data Integration and Analysis

DHS and its’ partners must continue and constantly maintain situational awareness.  In addition, DHS is dedicated to integrating its data sources, including federating vetting operations.  Homeland Security will adopt big data management solutions that will give the investigators and analysts the ability to identify relationships that were once difficult to distinguish.  It allows them to identify harmful activity earlier and to intervene or stop these attacks from ever happening.

A vital source of data is the Suspicious Activity Reporting from stat, local, and private sector partners that are members of the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.  Another source with a critical role is the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.  This campaign encourages citizens to report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.  These efforts will help protect our privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights and allow the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to quickly view information and share with other FBI Field Intelligence Groups for further analysis.  DHS will prioritize and swiftly distribute local or regional joint products through the National Network of Fusion Center and other mechanisms.  According to DHS, “These joint products, produced collaboratively by federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, support operations and provide detailed insight on emerging community or region-specific threats” (DHS, 2017).

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In conclusion, DHS has an enormous responsibility in keeping our nation safe, secure, and resilient against all enemies and other hazards. In order to accomplish this DHS employs over 240,000 people in jobs from border security to cybersecurity analysis. In order to protect us they came up with five priorities in order to secure against the evolving terrorism threat: identify, investigate, and interdict threats as early as possible, shrink the haystack: expand risk based security, focus on countering violent extremism and helping to prevent complex mass casualty attacks, reduce vulnerabilities:  deny resources, deny targets, and uncover patterns and faint signals by enhancing data integration and analysis.



DHS. (2014). Fiscal Years 2014-2018 Strategic Plan . Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/FY14-18%20Strategic%20Plan_0_0.PDF

DHS. (2014). The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2014-qhsr-final-508.pdf

Fulghum, C. (2016). Securing the resources that secure the homeland. Armed Forces Comptroller, 61(3), 6-9.

Kahan, J. H. (2013). What’s in a name? the meaning of homeland security. Journal of Homeland Security Education, 2(1), 18.

Kemp, R. L. (2012). Homeland security in america past, present, and future. World Future Review, 4(1), 28-33.

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