March Program Review: Terrorism & Violent Extremism
On March 16th, 2016, InfraGardNCR hosted a program which took an in-depth look at home grown violent extremism, specifically examining the growth and spread of ISIS/ISIL, the call for "attacks where you are", and US efforts to identify suspected or potential terrorists.
The first speaker was Ken Larson from the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center (TSC). He gave a brief explanation of the TSC and their purpose: to serve as a bridge between law enforcement and the Intelligence Community. Mr. Larson explained that the United States Government maintains the known terrorist watch list for three main reasons; 1) it is mandated; 2) for the case officer’s safety; and 3) to monitor threats to US national security. The TSC also maintains the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The database is made up of data collected from FBI partners in visa screening, passport control, aviation security, law enforcement, DHS, and others in the Intelligence Community. Mr. Larson said that “InfraGard is a perfect example (of partners) that help us build our database”.
The second speaker was Sean Boyle from the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF), often referred to as the “Bulk Data Analytic Shop” for foreign threats. They work by the motto, “making the unmanageable, manageable,” and their mission is to provide actionable intelligence. Mr. Boyle explained the various data sources and the process flow of data dissemination. They track the daily activity of known threats, identify previous known threats, perform bulk data processing and information recognition, and support special projects and critical incidents. They support the FBI by providing case support, AOR analysis, tripwires and alerts, source identification, and rapid tool development.
The third speaker was Shanna Edwards from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). She focused on the evolving threats that NCTC monitors. She briefed us on the latest (open-source) intelligence on Al Qaeda, their affiliates, Syria’s foreign fighters and ISIS/ISIL. The final speaker was Seamus Hughes, Deputy Director of George Washington University's Program on Extremism and one of the authors of the recently published "ISIS in America." He discussed foreign fighters who specifically originate from America and provided his informative perspective on trends and tactics foreign fighters are using to join ISIL.