September is National Preparedness Month.  Citizens of the United States and other countries are targets for terrorists.  We have seen examples of the violence thrust upon our foreign ambassadors and others who represent our country to help bring peace to their nations.  Our troops in Afghanistan have been killed and injured by certain terrorists, disguised in U.S. military uniforms.  It has been a game of “Who Do You Trust” in Iraq and Afghanistan for too long.    We must not let our guard down. 

Preparedness, as defined by Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response.  This cycle is one element of a broader National Preparedness System to prevent, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other disasters.  

Strategic and operational planning establishes priorities.  The National Response Framework establishes the guiding principles that enable all response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies from the smallest incident to the largest catastrophe.  

Homeland security begins with hometown security.  The nationwide “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign is a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime.  It also emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law authorities.  When you see something suspicious taking place, report that behavior or activity to local law enforcement or call 9-1-1.  Race, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation alone are not reasons for suspicions.  The public should report only suspicious behavior and situations such as an unattended backpack in a public place, someone trying to break into a restricted area, or other threatening scenarios.  Reports that document behavior reasonably indicative of criminal activity related to terrorism will be shared with federal partners.  (An example of this is last week’s threat of  bombs being placed on the University of Texas campus, as well as two bomb threats in one week at North Dakota State University.) The campaign, originally used by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has licensed the use of the slogan to DHS for anti-terrorism and anti-terrorism crime related efforts. 

Increasingly sophisticated use of the mainstream and social media, the internet, and information technology by violent extremists adds another layer of complexity.  These threats are neither constrained by international borders nor limited to any single ideology.  Groups and individuals inspired by a range of political, religious, or other ideological beliefs have promoted and used violence against the homeland. 

International partners with the DHS include the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Denmark and Australia, along with international law enforcement organizations such as Europol.  Our Department of Homeland Security also holds conferences and workshops for law enforcement to better educate them about countering violent extremism.  Along with the Department of Justice, DHS has trained hundreds of thousands of front line officers on suspicious activities reporting and Counter Violent Extremism.  DHS has issued grants that directly support local law enforcement efforts to understand, recognize, prepare for, prevent, and respond to terrorist pre-cursor activity, and raise public awareness and vigilance through the campaign, “If You See Something, Say Something.” 

We all must work together to keep our country safe.  

Source: Department of Homeland Security