What is worse than terrorist events themselves is the feeling of helplessness, not being able to do anything to fight back. Obviously, the United States and other countries in the coalition fighting ISIS and other terrorist organizations are spending huge amounts of money and time on new technology and personnel, but as they say, the terrorists need to be successful only once.
While terrorism is a serious threat, it’s important to keep it in perspective. According to Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times after the Paris attacks, “Killing random people in restaurants and at concerts is a strategy that reflects its perpetrators fundamental weakness.” According to Krugman, terrorism is not a threat to Western civilization as some politicians like to remind us during this political season.
The Evolving Response to Terrorist Organizations
There is no question that the West needs to be smarter about how it combats terrorism. According to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon in a recent address to the General Assembly, “We all lose by responding to ruthless terror with mindless policy. Policies that turn people against each other, alienate already marginalized groups, and play into the hands of the enemy. We need cool heads and common sense. We must never be ruled by fear or provoked by those who strive to exploit it. Countering violent extremism should not be counter-productive.”
Major countries including France and India and organizations like Interpol are stepping up counter-terror cooperation in an unprecedented effort to sort jihadist activities. New technologies will play an expanding role in helping police chiefs around the world gather information to identify threats.
Recently, the White House met with representatives of Silicon Valley high-tech firms including Apple and Google to prevent terrorist organizations from propagating themselves through social media channels.
Bringing the Crowd On Board
But what if the fight against terrorist organizations could be crowdsourced in some way? Many people would gladly give up a few hours a month to do some work on behalf of the innocent who have been or will be killed in terrorist attacks.
According to Citizen Warrior, there are a number of actions people can take to help halt terrorism:
- Be observant and report suspicious activities.
- Share information including articles, movies, and other media that help explain terrorist organizations and how they operate.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss terrorism with friends and acquaintances.
- Literally hundreds of books have been written about terrorism from all points of view. Read and share what you learn.
According to the following information from the FBI website, there are ways you can help prevent terrorist acts:
Surveillance: Are you aware of anyone video recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps, binoculars, etc., near key facilities/events?
Suspicious Questioning: Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail, email, etc., regarding a key facility or people who work there?
Tests of Security: Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at a key facility/event?
Acquiring Supplies: Are you aware of anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards or identification for a key facility/event or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist attack?
Suspicious Persons: Are you aware of anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or near a key facility/event?
“Dry Runs”: Have you observed any behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities/events, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, or other suspicious activities?
Deploying Assets: Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials, or persons being deployed near a key facility/event?
Following is an infographic depicting global terrorism in 2015: