Paul Anthony Ciancia, the 23-year-old who shot TSA agents at LAX, made his first court appearance this month. Since the shooting, news outlets have reported on the attack itself, on Ciancia’s mental state and on methods for improving security. Yet, in the extensive coverage of the shooter’s actions, there is one word that is conspicuously and erroneously absent: terrorist.
Just after 9 AM on Friday, November 1, a gunman walked up to a screening checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire. The attack by Jason Anthony Ciancia, a 23-year-old New Jersey native living in Los Angeles, resulted in the first on-the-job death of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer. The utility of attacking a critical point in the aviation system is enormous, and Ciancia’s attack is evidence of why securing the aviation domain is so important.
Last week, a Las Vegas couple was arrested for plotting to kidnap and kill police officers. This conspiracy to kill police officers is a case of homegrown terrorism, a growing threat to U.S. national security. When we look at the diversity of violent extremist ideologies and thousands of followers who present a threat to the United States, we are looking into a mirror.
The Bipartisan Policy Center launched its Homeland Security Project today, led by former 9/11 Commission Co-Chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton. Through this project, a group of 14 homeland security practitioners and scholars will create bipartisan recommendations on emerging terrorist threats, not unlike the 9/11 Commission.
September 11, 2000 began as just another day for the United States and much of the world. Ten years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, sometimes it seems like as a country, we have remembered the date but lost the lesson. Every day is common until the unthinkable occurs, and when it happens, collective efforts are what help us bounce back, in most cases stronger than before. Yet, America is more polarized today than it has been in a generation. We cannot control the threat, but we can control our reaction.
At an airport security checkpoint last week, a TSA officer guided a 95-year-old cancer patient to a private room to investigate “something suspicious on her leg.” It turned out to be a wet adult diaper, which she was asked to remove. TSA offered no apology and stood by protocol. This was another missed opportunity. Sometimes, even when we do the “right” thing, we should apologize. Instead, we now have a “viral” episode that places another brick on the wall between the public and the security agencies charged with protecting them.
From the al-Qaeda Playbook – How Terrorists Avoid "See Something, Say Something" and How We Can Stop Them
America is getting smarter in its efforts to reduce the risk of a terror attack. Yet, these efforts, while noteworthy, do not eliminate the threats against our country. We are dealing with an intelligent adversary; al-Qaeda’s adaptive capacity continues to serve it well. Armed with knowledge of al-Qaeda’s operational approach, however, citizens can employ a common-sense approach to “See Something, Say Something” and add critical information to our counterterrorism efforts.
The notion of “resilience” is a core principle in the United States National Security Strategy, yet in practice, the term lacks clarity. Other societies with years of terrorism experience have become more resilient to the risk of terror attacks. Is there a best practice to be implemented here? What is resilience and is community resilience to terrorism achievable? Resilience should become a national priority instead of a soundbite.