Globalization has empowered nations to trade, communicate, conduct business and enforce laws on an international and unprecedented scale. Because of these rapidly increasing dynamics, criminal enterprises, terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations have been forced to cooperate in unprecedented ways. In many cases, this cooperation and convergence surpasses radical ideologies that once drove their isolation from other segments of the generally accepted notion of community.
Events from the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 to the present continue to drive massive government restructuring and unprecedented planning. While these very expensive activities move forward, the activities of domestic extremist organizations have been greatly overlooked. Far more concerning are the effects of convergence between these domestic organizations and transnational organizations that include, but are not limited to Al Qaeda, The Mexican Cartels, drug gangs, prison gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs and the plethora of radical or extreme left and right wing radical organizations.
Current analysis of this convergence will lead the researcher to discover that all of the elements necessary to support a military style insurgency within the United States are present and are generally underway. It appears that the U.S. may be positioned for significant asymmetric attacks on the Homeland. This paper positions the reader to begin to understand that state and local agencies will be key to the solution of these issues and less, not more federal maneuvering is needed to “beat the clock” before another major or series of major attacks take place.
Convergent Interests of International and Domestic Extremist Organizations:
How Globalization Has Created a Force Multiplier for A-Symmetric Attacks Against the United States
Globalization has facilitated a convergence of fringe and extremist groups across the United States, but more concerning, across the entire globe. Today’s media and technological advances that facilitate the ability to rapidly spread information on a global scale has force multiplied the efforts of once isolated and even disparate organizations that at one time operated within their own geographical areas and were limited by time and space on a very different level that we both enjoy and respect today.
Since 9-11 a tremendous amount of training and education has been implemented for law enforcement agencies to equip agencies to deal with the growing threats of international terrorism. The need for education and awareness cannot be underestimated. However, the threat of domestic terrorism still poses a threat to the safety of communities throughout the U.S. (Kail & Preston, 2011, p.21).
As professional security personnel and academics consider these matters of concern, it is equally important to understand the effects of globalization on the terms “international” and “domestic” and that they come to the realization that the two terms in the context of threats against the United States are virtually synonymous. While ideologies remain polarized and in some cases geographical constraints on individuals may frame their ability to execute an attack or threat, this dynamic is becoming less and less significant as extremist organizations begin to converge efforts by need and necessity and in some cases mutual objectives.
“The Sovereign Citizen movement traces its historical roots back to a radical movement known as “Posse Comitatus” in the 1970’s.” (Kail & Preston, 2011, p.21) Many current organizations can trace their roots back to other extremist movements and many of those root organizations can trace their roots back to others before them. It is important to note that fringe beliefs and extreme political and religious ideologies have always been and will probably always be a part of any free society. However, in many cases, it seems to be both the strength and the weakness of democratic freedom to believe that all have the right to believe as they choose and to work to propagate those beliefs and ideologies. Kail & Preston (2011) go on to say:
The Sovereign Citizen movement began with a belief that Christian based founding fathers of the United States established a “common law” that would function in a Christian based government society. This system was overtaken by an evil government that builds its rules based on admiralty focusing on the law of the sea and law of international trade. Those who seek to live as ‘free men’ under the original Christian system are in constant war with the current government system. This ideology has become the motivation for members of this subculture to live “outside the system” by opting out of obtaining drivers licenses, car tags and paying taxes. (p.21).
Noting that this study is not about the Sovereign Citizen movement, these dynamics are germane to understanding some of the key factors that government officials, private and public security and the intelligence community must weigh against the measures of truth, context and reality. These same professionals tasked with protecting the freedoms and rights of the American citizen must not be concerned with political correctness or offending this group or that group while analyzing and determining possible and probable threats to national and/or community security. It is here, at this decision point where one side or the other will gain control and rise the victor as inevitable confrontation looms on the horizon of American history.
Partial truths or half-truths are often more insidious than total falsehoods. The latter can be easily exposed for what they are by citing exceptions to their claims; hence they are less likely to be accepted as the total truth. A partial truth, on the other hand, is plausible, because some evidence does support it, and it is, consequently, easy to assume that it is the total truth. (Huntington, 2004, p.37)
Huntington in his book goes on to discuss commonly accepted, but inaccurate historical roots of America (Huntington, 2004, p.37). That is applicable to this examination, but irrelevant to the focus of the scope of this discussion. As it relates to the matter here, many extremist organizations derive their being and press their agendas by ideology that is in nearly every case based in some level of truth. The problem arises when individuals believe and follow these truths that become mixed with propaganda, hate, fear and a myriad of other generally emotion-based arguments and or conspiracy theories. In most every case, a dynamic or charismatic leader or leadership mix partial truth and history with a personal or group agenda that is then energized by emotions and the deliberate propagation of group dynamics.
The Sovereign Citizen movement has begun to surface in recent years and appears to be fueled by the US failing economy and by individuals joining this organization to become part of something that is larger than themselves. Numerous incidents have taken place where police officers have been severely injured and the number of officer killings by this organization is on the rise. This level of violence or initiative on the part of anti-government groups, supremacists or militia organizations is not new. In 1998, near Cortez, Colorado, a police officer was killed attempting to make a stop on a stolen water truck. The officer was riddled with automatic weapons fire and never even exited his vehicle before being gunned down. That manhunt resulted in several more officers being severely injured and massive resources exhausted before the fugitives were identified and later found dead from self-inflicted wounds. These criminals were part of an organization called the Four Corners Militia.
While there is not sufficient time to address the details of this investigation or the incident, it is important to note that both of these organizations mentioned above had and still have affiliations to what is referred to as “Christian Identity.” There are numerous organizations around the United States, some of which have affiliations in European countries that have this common link. Literally thousands of individuals have identified with this type of ideology and can be found in other extremist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, Skin Heads, White Arian Resistance, numerous militia movements and organizations, to name a few.
In some cases, these organizations demonstrate openly and peacefully on one front. They are very cognoscente of the law and generally obey local laws and statutes to appear as a cohesive front. With this in mind, most incidents aside from demonstrations turning violent, these groups tend to be divisional among their ranks and a deliberate and compartmented approach to operations is noted. Leadership tends to be very secretive as to membership rosters and the planning of various activities.
Whenever people come together to collaborate, whether it be in an executive planning meeting or as a team working toward a shared product, there is a very real sense in which they have a group IQ, the sum total of the talents and skills of all those involved. And how well they accomplish their task will be determined by how high that IQ is. The single most important element in group intelligence, it turns out, is not the average IQ in the academic sense, but rather in terms of emotional intelligence. The key to a high group IQ is social harmony. It is this ability to harmonize that, all other things being equal, will make one group especially talented, productive, and successful, and another – with members whose talent and skill are equal in other regards – do poorly. (Goleman, 1995, pp. 160-161).
With this scientific information as a lens to view the discussion, great concern should rise in the hearts and minds of law enforcement and military officials responsible for protecting the homeland. Considering a group IQ, based on emotional intelligence rather than one’s ability to rationally or intellectually discern right from wrong becomes the basis for group think within these organizations, the foundations then become laid for linking to other non-rational ideologies that may or may not have the same orientations based in less than accurate historical, religious or factual information.
Historically, the United States has a propensity to over extend itself in global and government operations. In a dynamic, that might be coined “drive-through mentality,” American decision-making process tends to be driven mostly by current information and a desire for immediate results. As this relates to national security and public safety, this character trait has resulted in numerous operational misgivings, as well as overlooking goals and objectives initiated by enemies and the criminal element, motivated by long-term planning. For the purposes of this study, Christian Identity will suffice to make the point with respect to organizational roots and the evolution of historically inaccurate and emotional hate-based ideologies. This same example can be applied to both left and right sides with respect to political ideologies. The old adage that you must understand where you been to have a clear understanding of where you’re going of flies here. In the end, we will see that both political and religious ideologies over the test of history rarely remain consistent. The consistent factor in all of them is an emotional core surrounded by emotional elements such as fear, hate, anger, and then tied together by some level of conspiracy or paranoia.
Michael Barkun (1994) describes the origins of Christian Identity, which began in England, not the US. The movement is less than a century old, yet it is looked at by most American law enforcement personnel and analysts as if it is somehow related to Biblical Christianity (Barkun, 1994, p.3). That bias alone is sufficient to cause the analyst to make false or poor assumptions and potentially dismiss or overlook key elements of predictive analysis that could lead to successful interdiction or the avoidance of serious or catastrophic events.
Barkun (1994) states,
In one sense, Christian Identity is barely half a century old. Its doctrinal basis was established after World War II by a network of independent preachers and writers. It passed rapidly from their hands into a variety of extreme right-wing political movements preoccupied with fears of racial mixing a Jewish conspiracy. Through such organizations as the Aryan Nations and Ku Klux Klan groups, Christian Identity, and by the 1970’s become, if not white supremacist orthodoxy, at least its most important religious tendency.
In order to understand how Christian Identity developed, the story must be published. Farther back, for identities, antecedents lay in England, not in America, and in the 19th century, not the 20th. Identity is an outgrowth of what was itself a strange development in religious history, known variously as British-Israelism or Anglo-Israelism (the terms will be employed synonymously here). Although Christian Identity eventually made major changes in British Israelism doctrine, it remains sufficiently related to Anglo-Israelism, so that the one cannot be understood without first knowing about the other. (Barkun, 1994, p.3).
American analysts and investigators must understand these details and historical roots in order to make sound decisions and in developing rational and conclusive intelligence and investigative data. Academically, we know from Barkun’s and other work that what is understood in contemporary terms as “Christian Identity” is not related to Christianity other than it having used various similarities of historical references and places and other information. This same style of comparison can be made and drawn between various contemporary movements like The Nation of Islam, a Black Supremacists movement, which in kind is also less than a century old, yet having its roots in the United States. While having overtones and shadows of information that represent the Islamic religion, The Nation of Islam is no more Islamic than the Christian Identity movement is Christian.
Elijah Muhammad preached that the black man was created by the Supreme Being, the white man by an evil wizard-scientist named Yacub who, though he lived to age 152, never saw the “bleached out devil race” he created; Elijah Muhammad claimed he was a prophet, but orthodox Islam insists that the seventh century Mohammed was the final prophet; Elijah Muhammad proclaims blacks to be superior to whites in all ways, while orthodox Islam eschews racism: Elijah allowed only blacks in his religion, while orthodox Islam has been open to all. (George & Wilcox, 1996, pp.317-318).
The Nation of Islam, like the Christian Identity movement was and is riddled with criminal personalities and bizarre beliefs of which there is no historical or factual accounting. Other personalities which one might remember from recent historical accounts would be Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh and Randy Weaver, who all had some level of attachment with Christian Identity do some of the acts they did by a deep seeded anti-government sentiment. Mark Juergensmeyer, in his book, “Terror in the Mind of God” briefly addresses this issue, but also does so with an obvious bias or ignorance with respect to religious and political affiliations (Juergensmeyer, 2003, p.31). The work is well done, but this kind of flawed analytic at the law enforcement level could prove to be disastrous, as it did in the case of both Rudolf and Weaver. Related to Rudolf, Juergensmeyer (2003) states,
In a broader sense, however, Rudolph was concerned about the permissiveness of secular authorities in the United States and “the atheistic internationalism” controlling one side of what Bray calls ‘the culture war’ in modern society.
His concerns are shared by many Christian activists, but in Rudolf’s case, they are associated, especially with a branch of Christianity with which Rudolf became familiar in childhood: Christian Identity. At one time he and his mother stayed at the American Identity compound, led by Dan Gayman, and there are press reports that Rudolf knew the late Identity preacher Nord Davis. The theology of Christian Identity is based on racial supremacy and biblical law. It has been in the background of such extremist American movements as the Posse Comitatus, the Order, the Aryan Nations, supporters of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, the Freeman Compound, and the World Church of the Creator. (p.31).
Juergensmeyer (2003) makes some very interesting observations and provides relevant data so one can formulate an opinion and a point of reference with these personalities related to the Christian Identity movement. However, that is where the value of this information stops. The analyst cannot afford the luxury of artistic license taken here, nor should the threat analyst or criminal investigator make the mistake of lumping organizations into the same analytical molds because they may have the same name such as “Christian” or “Islam” in the title. Rather, critical thinking must be practiced here and care should be giving to ensure that solid and unbiased analytics are deployed and that conclusions are based solely on data that has been verified and validated.
One might ask at this point concerning the relevance of what could be deemed as simple semantics. However, when an investigator or analyst travels down the path to truth, it is much like a round being fired downrange at a target. The round itself is much like the truth. It is only an object that has mass and density, which has been pushed in a particular direction by force. The round itself is unbiased. Its actions are determined by influencing factors around, as it travels from the muzzle of the weapon, through space and time, finally to impact on the target. By the laws of physics, we can state with certainty that deviation of the round at the muzzle will be increased by the distance around travels away from the muzzle. Information can be likened to the round, leaving the muzzle of the weapon. The information is what it is and in most cases can be verified by various levels of work. However, there are many contributing factors that can be causal to information becoming distorted. As time and other contributing factors are added to the analytical process, deviation of facts and additional erroneous information may cause the investigator to develop faulty conclusions. Thus, deviation of the round at the target is likened to distorted information at the source.
In nearly every case where an extremist organization has been named party to a criminal or domestic terrorist act, the incident only involved a small number of people. These small-group elements that have created national, international and catastrophic terror events do not necessarily have the support or backing of the larger groups of which they affiliate. It is not uncommon for these small groups to seek support from other like-minded individuals or other small groups seeking to accomplish or carry out similar or same objectives. In some cases, ideology may or may not be relevant with respect to activities given to criminal or terrorist intentions. Globalization and freedom of information become a significant force multiplier to the small fanatical elements associated with extremist organizations.
Positive effects of globalization have allowed law enforcement and military operations and force multiply their efforts as well. Because of this dynamic in the ability of governments and nations to use the same globalization strategies and technologies, fringe and extreme elements are being pushed by necessity to provide support and backing and common goals and objectives are realized. US federal organizations sometimes referred to these small-group elements as “cell” or “Lone Wolf” operatives. In either case, operations and attacks by these elements have become asymmetric in nature. Focus on the larger organizations can be a distraction from developing the necessary elements of information that will allow for early warning and rapid interdiction. In similar fashion, the development of larger federal organizations and structures will only magnify the complexities of becoming successful in this environment, particularly inside the United States while trying to operate asymmetric operations and investigations.
In 2003 a bulletin was published by the US Border Patrol that indicated confirmed information with respect to meets and cooperation between Al Qaeda and Mexican and South American Cartels and Drug Organizations (Border Patrol Special Coordination Center, 2003, p.1). The information was then picked up by numerous counter drug organizations within the US and distributed to law enforcement agencies. However, at the same time this information was being developed, the Department of Homeland Security was being “birthed” and agencies, such as Customs and Border Patrol were being consumed into this larger organizational structure. Without belaboring the matter, information processes and key elements of information slipped through the cracks as agencies were stood up and down and as supervision was moved and removed over a period of about three years. Since that time frame, much good work has been accomplished by the new organization, but a loss of focus as well as the ability to operate rapidly and efficiently has been all but lost. Many state and local agencies are struggling to comply with standards set by both Homeland Security and by the also new Directorate of Intelligence. While in theory, these organizational structures exist to bring continuity, it may become a reality of the near future that the asymmetric threat developing against the United States will require small, rapidly deployable asymmetric teams that are plugged into their local counterparts in an effort to force multiply knowledge “on the ground.”
At the time of publication, the following information was labeled as “Law Enforcement Sensitive.” However, at this time, this information has not only become dated, but there are many open source records and organizations literally screaming that this convergence of organizations and asymmetric threat could become the downfall of the country. To fight this battle, the US must be able to operate at the “seams” of the convergences. In other words, where these relationships come together, in many cases, opportunity will arise to expose the convergence and intentions surrounding the convergence. That however, is not the focus of this particular study. The source as it was quoted in 2003 reads:
Recent reporting indicates that drug and terrorist related organizations have established or strengthened their ties in Mexico. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, (FARC); the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, (AUC); and Al Qaeda have established foundations in Mexico. Information indicates that al-Qaeda has established connections in South America and Mexico and possibly Canada as possible staging points to mount terrorist attacks on the United States. The reporting also states that al-Qaeda is attempting to recruit Muslims from the Caribbean and may plan to infiltrate operatives from Mexico into the United States in order to establish a network of terrorists inside the United States. It has been confirmed that al-Qaeda and FARC have had meetings in Europe and Mexico to establish networks in Latin America. Also confirmed is FARC’s strong ties to the Mexican drug cartels, especially the Tijuana cartel.
Law Enforcement officers should be aware that these are organizations connected to the drug trade. They should also understand that these organizations use terror as part of their Modus Operindi (MO). Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos of the Mexican Special Unit Against Organized Crime stated the AUC is “extremely violent, nothing matters to them so long as they achieve their goals.”
Recent reports have established that Middle Eastern terrorists groups are operating support cells in Venezuela and other locations in the Andean region. Other sources confirm the terrorist activity and have reported that thousands of Venezuelan identity documents are being distributed to foreigners from Middle Eastern nations. These documents are believed to have enabled these people to obtain passports and visas to obtain entry into other countries, primarily the United States and Mexico. (Border Patrol Special Coordination Center, 2003, p.1)
In 2004, a quote from a member of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) was pulled from an on-line source and showed the ideology at work with respect to convergence. It is the novice investigator that would fall for the trap that these small, highly emotional and hate driven personalities are being driven by or are fully loyal to the labels of their organizations. It is the ideology as well as the operational goals and objectives and the agenda of the individuals that drive what must be searched out. The obscene and offensive language as well as the poor writing skill is an indicator of the emotional and intellectual state as described earlier in this writing. It has not been redacted or edited only to provide an accurate reflection of the realities of the psychological state of mind of the real extremist and how this mindset combined with anti-government and hate ideology will result in an asymmetric enemy that will again sneak up on US intelligence and law enforcement if they continue to search for the obvious. The quote is as follows:
I’m just starting my WAR sub, so maybe I missed a point somewhere…Reading that ANY racialist says the moslems are a bigger problem than the jews drives me bat-shit. I was a cop for 16 years and when they stuck me in Sex Crimes (oh, wait… the p.c. term is “Special Victims”…), I ran for my life (“what do you mean I can’t kill that spic who was fucking his 3 year old [white] stepdaughter?!!). Anyway, to make a long story longer, I ended up a security manager for one of the late unlamented dot.coms. We hired different security firms to run the front desk and parking lot. Nigger after nigger, spic after spic, they all screwed up. One company had a lot of Palestinians… and, well, hell if I’ve ever met a cleaner, more intelligent, more decent (I mean white man decent) group of people I couldn’t say. Of course the three hebrews who ran that particular Titanic.com became “uncomfortable” with my Palestinian brigade… and just prior to the late 90’s .com bust we were forced to let them go… and hire another nigger crewed ship of shit. Do I want to kiss Mohammed’s stick? Hell no. But of all the cultures to bitch about, the one that kills its enemies outright with brutal sacrifice, and that knows how to keep its women in place, and that hates that cultural-solvent called the jew without question… “sand-niggers”? “towel-heads”? This Aryan man supports them. TO WAR! (W.A.R. Aryan Update May 23rd, 2004. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.resist.com/updates/2004/5.23.04aryanupdate.htm).
One may also wish to note the background of the person talking. This person claims to be or have been a law enforcement official who had access to very sensitive data as well as cyber security and who was also potentially engaged in private physical security. There are other examples of convergence in recent history that include, but are not limited to FARC engaging the IRA to expand their use of and ability to deploy IEDs and the use of explosives in urban environments. In the early 1990’s the KKK engaged with local and international Skin Heads to provide an enforcement arm and an ability to conduct illegal operations without directly affiliating the activities to the Klan. Motorcycle gangs such as the Outlaws used the same kind of methodology for enforcement and even the Italian mafias hired outlaw Bikers to take care of “dirty work” from time to time. These kinds of activities in convergence and crossover of extremist organizations is not a new phenomenon. It is a matter of convenience and in most cases necessity.
However, globalization in the contemporary sense of the word has become a force multiplier to these organizations and their ability to communicate world-wide as well as to their ability to carry out their work on a much broader scale. If this is actually a true statement, then definitions such as the one provided by George and Wilcox (1996) in their book “American Extremists” must be carefully interpreted and then critical thinking applied by the analyst. It could be that works like this are useful for awareness, but not for operational or investigative use, in which case, it may serve to confuse or even defuse the intuition necessary to provide solid predictive or mitigating analytics.
George & Wilcox (1996) stated, “In a Dictionary of Political Thought(1982) Roger Scruton defines “extremism” as;
1. taking a political idea to its limits, regardless of the unfortunate repercussions, and practicalities, arguments, and feelings to the contrary, and with the intention of not only to confront, but to eliminate opposition.
2. Intolerance towards all views other than one’s own.
3. Adoption of means to political ends, which showed disregard for the life, liberty and human rights of others.1 (Pg. 54)
They go on to say, “This definition basically reflects my own experience, that extremism is more of an issue of style than content.”(George & Wilcox, 1996, p.54). The book does not say whether George or Wilcox is making this assertion, but in the context of law enforcement or military operations, the analyst should beware. While this approach may work for an academic or an artisan’s view of “extremism,” it will certainly not work for a professional engaged in the mission of protecting the Homeland or attempting to predict potential attack scenarios inside the continental United States. To be precise in this criticism, the author’s position that extremism is an issue of “style” is generally absurd. Content and context are critical to understanding “intent” and intent is critical to working with predictive analytics as well as post-incident analysis. In a time where political correctness seems to rule much of American political culture and where post-modernism seems to have sucked the wind out of the sails of logic and basic reasoning, it becomes more important than ever for current professionals to conduct critical thinking and apply the content of available information to begin to see where the convergence of ideologies just might also converge with the intent to commit criminal acts or even greater or more sophisticated criminal activities such as terrorism or insurgency.
To illustrate the issues described, one might first look at the 2011, National Drug Assessment, compiled and published by the US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011). Nowhere in this report does it discuss affiliations between the cartels and known international terror organizations. So one must ask the question, has something changed since the intelligence reports in 2003 and 2004 were produced? Did Al Qaeda decide not to do business with the cartels? Has something changed? These rhetorical questions are to make a point. There is plenty of open source information available in the news and through various on-line, law enforcement reports and other publications to be clear that nothing has changed. If anything, we can conclude that drug activity related to cartel activity and the volume of cartel activity within the United States has significantly increased since 9-11 and the referenced report from 2003. The NDIC report (2011) does indicate that a large percentage, if not most of the drug activity within the United States is controlled by Mexican Cartels and “their associates.” Who then are their associates? The following information is taken directly from the 2011 report as described:
Mexican-based TCOs and their associates dominate the supply and wholesale distribution of most illicit drugs in the United States. These organizations control much of the production, transportation, and wholesale distribution of illicit drugs destined for and in the United States. Currently, seven Mexican-based TCOs (Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, Gulf Cartel, Juárez Cartel, BLO, LFM, and Tijuana Cartel) are in a dynamic struggle for control of the lucrative smuggling corridors leading into the United States, resulting in unprecedented levels of violence in Mexico. Numerous other types of organizations and groups are present, active, and thriving. For example, Colombian-based TCOs operate primarily in the Northeast and in southern Florida, while ethnic Asian, Dominican, and Cuban organizations are expanding operations. In addition, various street gangs, prison gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) make up the bedrock of retail drug distribution throughout the country. (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011, p.7).
This assessment is not submitted to criticize in any way the exceptional research and phenomenal labor effort that has gone into compiling and producing this well done report and analysis. The report and the lack of directed information on the convergence of organizations is pointed out to illustrate that larger organizations like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice and the Directorate for National Intelligence may not be the best organizational architecture to predict, mitigate, interdict and even combat the rising tide of asymmetric threat activity within U.S. borders. It is not to say that organizations like these should not exist. It is to say that very large organizations whether government or contractor-based have trouble maneuvering asymmetrically and tend to stovepipe information and job responsibilities. Rather, much more attention should be given to empowering state and local resources that operate at the ground level where these activities are taking place. Historically, it is well documented that first responders will be first to arrive on the scene of major incidents and will be burdened with the initial and prolonged response. Perhaps agencies that are capable of the tremendous output of information and that typically house vast amounts of experience and knowledge should be restructured to become less top-heavy and provide focus to mentoring and empowering the smaller agencies that have historically been engaged at the levels where the ground-truth resides. This type of approach has been discussed many times and has even been attempted divisionally within organizations since 9-11. The unfortunate truth of the matter is though; organizations with this level of magnitude and the mass volume of personalities represent many diversified interests tend to give rise to conflicted decision making process and delayed results. Recent strides with the State-level fusion centers might be a good example of how this mentoring could take place and how these large agencies could succeed with slight operational modifications.
To belabor the point concerning the convergence of what have now been termed as Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011, p.7), in 2008, NDIC published maps and supporting documentation that was compiled over a two year period, from 2006 to 2008 (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011, http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs27/27986/dlinks.htm).
One of the maps shows “Cities reporting the presence of Mexican drug trafficking organizations.” (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011, http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs27/27986/appenda.htm#Map1) This map indicates that nearly every major city in the United States has reported Mexican TCO’s. Three years later, there are numerous references inside of the various federal agencies, to include the Department of Defense that are now reporting that the numbers of Mexican cartel influenced cities could be as high as 1000 U.S. cities. There are numerous discussions among the federal agencies and the intelligence community as to whether these activities constitute what should be classified as an “insurgency.” Other discussions in recent days have been around whether the cartels should be classified as “terrorist” or criminal enterprise organizations. While these classifications are important with respect to how U.S. law and legislation apply to making and prosecuting cases, precious time is wasted while policy and decision makers are about the business of making these important determinations. U.S. law enforcement has become quite experienced at narcotics interdiction and the knowledge base to support anti and counter-terror operations has increased at the state and local level exponentially.
What is lacking is a means by which to link the needed information and allow state and local agencies to rapidly and without resistance process tactical data, while at the same time allowing both tactical and strategic information to be pushed back “upstream” to federal agencies that have the ability to compute and process on deeper and broader scales. This process is possible and should be implemented immediately while other activities take place as described.
To begin to close this position with respect to the convergence of extremist organizations, some of which are now referred to as “TCO’s,” it might be helpful to return to the NDIC document and map information briefly. The NDIC-DOJ report indicated that Mexican Drug organizations are the predominant force behind supply of drugs into most of the United States and that demand is on the rise (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011, p.7). It also indicates that street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs are still the primary “retail distributors” of these illegal narcotics (National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice, 2011, p.7). It is a known fact that all of the extremist organizations discussed in this paper have ties to or use narcotics distribution to fund some aspect of their organization. If we apply critical thinking to this equation, it is logical to conclude that, if narcotics is a common thread for all of these organizations and that each organization uses narcotics and affiliations with the Mexican cartels to fund operations, then it is at the seams and crossover points where these individuals and organizations meet that we should be focusing efforts. This effort cannot be accomplished by large organizations or by policy makers directing actions from the top. It must be accomplished at the ground level and as a counter to asymmetric insurgency. These efforts begin with those suspects who are field-interviewed, turned as a confidential informants or who are arrested. Unprecedented communications must be established. “Talking to one another” as some have coined after 9-11 is not the issue.
The issue is about agencies having the same information and being able to provide one another sound and logical support. It might be worth revisiting some of our conclusions drawn just prior to our greatest catastrophe on September 11th, 2001. The 9-11 Commission (2004) reported,
We need to design a balanced strategy for the long haul, to attack terrorists and prevent their ranks from swelling while at the same time protecting our country against future attacks. We have been forced to think about the way our government is organized. The massive departments and agencies that prevailed in the great struggles of the twentieth century must work together in new ways, so that all the instruments of national power can be combined. Congress needs dramatic change as well to strengthen oversight and focus accountability. (The 9-11 Commission Report, (2004), Preface p. xvi).
This type of cooperation cannot happen at the federal level with the intent to interdict asymmetric convergence and operational savvy of organizations engaged in insurgency operation within the United States and to both the north and south of U.S. borders. Much focus has been spent and astronomical funds and resources have gone to organizing federal government. Incrementally, not nearly enough focus or resources have gone to ensuring that these organizations do not “swell” as the report indicated (The 9-11 Commission Report, (2004), Preface p. xvi). While U.S. policy makers and officials work desperately to try to resolve the issues of how to make government organizations successful and work tirelessly to deliver quality federal service to the American people, the enemy and the issue of insurgency continues to swell and grow. Reports and discussions have indicated that a convergence of all of the organizations discussed has already happened and is now in a maturation process. Organizations that understand insurgency doctrine and that prepare themselves to support the destruction of the United States also have enough operational know-how to be patient. Much like Bin Laden, they wait. As the United States grows complacent once again and federal government organizations become comfortable with the façade that “we must be doing something right because we have not had a major attack since 9-11,” the enemies, both criminal and combatant continue to gain position and plan. They wait for the time and the opening.
George Friedman (2004) in his book “America’s Secret War” stated,
The last thing the US strategic planners expected at the end of the Cold War was to be embroiled in the kind of global war in which the United States is now engaged. September 11 was certainly not anticipated, but it is crucial to understand that the kind of war that would have to be fought in response to September 11 was not anticipated either. Everything that happened after that date was a series of hastily sketched improvisations.
United States Defense community is assessed with planning. There are contingency plans for everything, and thousands of people in the Pentagon and elsewhere do nothing but update these plants. This goes back almost a century and covers even the most outlandish possibilities. After World War I, for example, United States develop War Plan Red, which prepared for a war with Great Britain. There is virtually no scenario, no matter how far-fetched, without a plan — and no plan that isn’t reviewed and refined over time.
This is what made September 11 so brilliant from a simple military standpoint. Tactical surprise is always important. However, it is an act of genius to surprise an adversary so completely that he has not even begun to think about how to deal with the threat. And that is where Al Qaeda really hit the United States. Apart from killing thousands of Americans, it left the US defense and intelligence establishment at an utter loss as to how it would respond. There was no plan for defeating Al Qaeda. Everything that followed, most especially the US invasion of Iraq, was a consequence of this fundamental fact. (pp.79-80).
This same dynamic for massive planning and even over-planning is common to most large organizations. It is not unique to government and should not be levied as a criticism or insult to government operations. Any student of organizational dynamics and leadership will make this observation. Unfortunately, when leadership is looking at the problem from inside the prism, it becomes a bit like not being able to see the forest for the trees. Massive networks of state and local agencies with hundreds of thousands of resources are already in place.
With the proper federal mentoring and leadership, along with a few sets of good tools the process of mitigating the swelling affects of extremist organizational convergence, which has been greatly force multiplied by technological and transportation related globalization could be greatly enhanced. Leading and managing this effort would also have significant economical impacts that could greatly and positively affect the security market. Success in these areas would contribute to public perception of security and success. In the end, it is one significant factor that could have a profound influence on the U.S. economy, which at the root of the 9-11 attacks was a strategic objective marked for destruction by Al Qaeda. An unbiased assessment reveals that the strike had both its short and long term effects as planned. Yet, these attacks and the subsequent consequences were a battle won, not the war. Efforts in fighting the battles described could also provide government officials with a benchmark for countering the catastrophic effects of what has become a very successful information war (INFOWAR) against the United States. Neutralizing these efforts by simple countermeasures such as described could have positive impacts across a spectrum of interests. Using this information to counter the effects of the enemies INFOWAR could have positive results across the spectrum.
Investigative or analytical segregation of information can be just as destructive as segregation of persons and people groups has been in American history. As Americans claim that it is the “melting pot” that gives us our strength as a nation, then perhaps the representatives of the people and those who do the work of national and homeland security should also apply a similar style of culture to the management of information. By so doing, it is very likely that rather than focusing on the surface veneer of even domestic extremist organizations, the U.S. would be able to get down to the heart of issues and find that below the surface rhetoric is where the answers to the real questions will be found. Policy makers can call it what they will, but in the end, the U.S. is losing a significant part of the global INFOWAR and is slow to coming to the political realization that there is an active insurgency threatening the American Homeland. By understanding the dynamics of domestic extremist organizations and pinpointing where these organizations intersect or converge with international terrorist and transnational criminal organizations, the United States will be much more prepared to interdict and counter these threats before and during their attack sequences.
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Border Patrol Special Coordination Center. (2003). Officer Safety Bulletin 03-013, Terrorist Organizations in Mexico (BPSCC on November 12, 2003, and re-published in its entirety by the PSA Unit at LA CLEAR) Specially prepared for all ONDCP High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Programs.
Friedman, G. (2004). America’s secret war: Inside the hidden worldwide struggle between America and its enemies. New York: U.S.
George, J. & Wilcox, L. (1996). American extremists, militias, supremacists, klansmen, communists, & others. Amherst, New York, Prometheus Books.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ, New York, U.S.
This is a classic work by Daniel Goleman who is a noted authority or group dynamics
Huntington, S. P. (2004). Who are we? The challenges to America’s national identity. New York, New York, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.
Juergensmeyer, M. (2003). Terror in the mind of God, the global rise of religious violence(3rd ed.). Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, The University of California Press
Kail, T. & Preston J. (2011). Domestic Terrorism and the Sovereign Citizens Movement. Journal of Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security International, (17, No.4 Winter 2011), 20 – 23.
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States. (2004). The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Official Government Edition. (ISBN 0-16-072304-3). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
National Drug Intelligence Center, Department of Justice. (2011). National Drug Threat Assessment 2011. (Product No. 2011-Q0317-001). Johnstown, PA
W.A.R. Aryan Update May 23rd, 2004. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.resist.com/updates/2004/5.23.04aryanupdate.htm (1 of 7)8/9/2004 6:00:12 PM.
© 2012-2017 David Henderman, CPP, OSINetwork (Reprint is permissible with credit and notice to source via firstname.lastname@example.org)