FORT BELVOIR, VA, Aug. 1, 2017 —
August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month. Although we should always remain vigilant in light of attacks carried out during the past few years, Antiterrorism Awareness Month should be a time we instill heightened awareness and vigilance to prevent terrorist attacks and protect DLA employees, locations, and operations from acts of terrorism.
Terrorism is an enduring, persistent, worldwide threat to our nation. Antiterrorism is the defense element to our fight against terrorists. We must seek knowledge of the threats and heightened awareness to detect terrorist activities. These actions are critical to sustain vigilance and successfully provide the advanced warning needed to defend against the full range of terrorist tactics.
To prevent terrorism, we must stay ahead of the terrorists and be on guard for violent extremism. The threat of violent extremism is not limited to a single political, religious, or ideological background. A wide variety of domestic violent extremism movements pose a threat to the United States—for example, white supremacists, eco-terrorists, anti-government, or radical separatists. Some individuals become active members in groups (terrorist organizations, hate groups, etc.) and take action within their affiliated group’s purview, while other individuals, often referred to as “lone wolves,” do not have direct connections with a specific group, but are inspired by the group’s rhetoric or group-sponsored violence. For example, a husband and wife killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 people in San Bernardino, CA, in December 2015. The perpetrators were violent extremists inspired by jihadist terrorist groups, but not directed by such groups and not part of any terrorist cell or network. However, affiliating with any specific group or advocating extremist beliefs does not mean an individual will commit violent acts, but these activities are indicators of potential violence that need to be reported to the chain of command and law enforcement.
All DLA employees play an important role in preventing vulnerable individuals from entering the path to radicalization and violence. Education, promotion of awareness, and dialogue are important tools for prevention. Because of rapid changes in online communications, the threat of violent extremism has evolved in recent years. Violent ideologies and propaganda are now more accessible than ever, making it more difficult to identify and stop extremists before they act.
Trust your instincts; if a behavior or activity makes you feel uncomfortable, REPORT IT. Although this is not an all-inclusive list, these are some of the observations to report to local law enforcement or through DLA iWatch:
- People drawing or measuring important buildings
- Strangers asking questions about security forces or security procedures
- An unattended briefcase, suitcase, backpack, or package
- Cars or trucks left in No Parking zones in front of important buildings.
- Intruders found in secure areas
- A person wearing clothes that are too big and bulky and/or too hot for the weather
- Chemical smells or fumes that worry you
- A person who is asking questions about sensitive information such as building blueprints, security plans, or VIP schedules without a right or need to know
- Purchasing supplies or equipment that can be used to make bombs or weapons or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials
Provide as many details as possible. Here is a quick checklist:
- Date and time
- Where it happened
- What you witnessed
- A description of who was involved
- Height and build
- Hair color, skin color, age
- Language(s) spoken
- Was there a car? Note the license plate number
- Have you seen this activity before?
Awareness is not limited to your workspace or local area; it should be a part of any travel, official or unofficial. If required, ensure you receive a Travel Threat Briefing from your local Antiterrorism Officer. Know the location of the safe havens and carry with you the local emergency telephone numbers. Understand the culture where you are travelling. The State Department posts its current travel warnings on this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html.
To gain a better understanding of the challenges of violent extremism, all DLA employees must complete their annual AT Level I training. Remember, you are a key link in helping to prevent violent extremism by:
- Remaining alert to changing conditions and suspicious activities
- Anticipating threats and making choices that reduce risk
- Being anonymous and unpredictable, don’t be a target
- Being responsive; report suspicious or threating activities