Feb 14, 2019
Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored policy options to strengthen terrorism prevention in the future. They found that current terrorism prevention capabilities are relatively limited and that there is a perceived need for federal efforts to help strengthen local capacity. However, any federal efforts will need to focus on building community trust to be successful.
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Terrorism prevention — superseding the programs and activities previously known as countering violent extremism (CVE) — policies seek to broaden the options available to address the risk of individual radicalization and mobilization to ideologically driven violence. These programs provide alternatives to arrest, prosecution, and incarceration by countering recruiting or radicalizing messages, intervening before individuals have committed serious crimes, or supporting the reentry and desistance from violence of individuals convicted and incarcerated for terrorism-related offenses. Government involvement in these programs has been controversial, due to concerns about such efforts' potential to infringe on Constitutionally protected rights and the risk of outreach or intervention activities stigmatizing communities by associating them with terrorism or extremism.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) Office of Policy requested that the Homeland Security and Operational Analysis Center examine past U.S. CVE and current terrorism prevention efforts, evaluate the DHS and interagency posture for federal efforts, and explore policy options to strengthen terrorism prevention going forward. Researchers found that current terrorism prevention capabilities are relatively limited. Most initiatives are implemented locally or outside government, and only a subset receive federal support. Among interviewees in law enforcement, government, and some community organizations, there is a perceived need for a variety of federal efforts to help strengthen and broaden local and nongovernmental capacity. However, doing so will be challenging, since concerns about past counterterrorism and CVE efforts have significantly damaged trust in some communities. As a result, terrorism prevention policy and programs will need to focus on building trust locally, and designing programs and federal activities to maintain that trust over time.
The Goal of Terrorism Prevention: Examining the Level of Terrorist Threat Inside the United States
How Does Terrorism Prevention Policy Seek to Reduce Risk?
Early-Phase Terrorism Prevention: Countering Extremist Messaging Online
Early-Phase Terrorism Prevention: Community Education, Engagement, Resilience, and Risk-Factor Reduction
Middle-Phase Terrorism Prevention: Referral Promotion
Middle-Phase Terrorism Prevention: Intervention
Late-Phase Terrorism Prevention: Recidivism Reduction
Assessing Resources Allocated to Terrorism Prevention Efforts
Organization of the Federal Terrorism Prevention Enterprise
Conclusions and Future Options for Practical Federal Terrorism Prevent
International Case Studies
Lessons from U.S. City Visits
What Does Success Look Like? Measures and Metrics for National-Level Terrorism Prevention
HSOAC is a federally funded research and development center operated by the RAND Corporation under contract with DHS.