As the United States enters another chapter in the ongoing effort to protect U.S. citizens and assets, the phenomenon of homegrown terrorism is likely to take center stage, requiring a new approach and perspective toward homeland security. This is the subject of Homegrown Violent Extremism, a new book from counterterrorism expert and fellow Security Debrief contributor Erroll Southers. Here is an interview I conducted with Southers for Defense Media Network, getting a better sense of the changing nature of the terrorist threat in the post-Boston Marathon security environment.
Entering the Era of Homegrown Violent Extremism: Interview with Erroll Southers
Hienz: What are some of the security lessons and revelations immediately apparent from the Boston bombing?
Erroll Southers: There were a number of lessons-learned. First is the realization that homegrown actors can successfully attack a U.S. target with little or no resources. We have always known this was a possibility, but Boston reminded us of the adaptive nature of the threat we face. The Tsarnaevs chose to attack a marathon – a particularly difficult target to secure. This speaks to the issue of soft targets and their relative vulnerability, and the fact that violent actors seek out public gatherings that, by their nature, cannot be made totally secure. However, the fact that the suspects were identified and apprehended or neutralized in little more than 100 hours is a credit to the systems we have in place. Also, the Boston attack evidenced the resiliency American cities have developed since 9/11, inasmuch as the Boston community worked in concert with a multi-agency law enforcement effort.