Erroll Southers (Former Deputy Director of the California Department of Homeland Security) gives expert video advice on: Is US foreign policy effective at preventing terrorism?; How has American intelligence evolved since 9-11 to prevent and combat terrorism?; How does the global nature of terrorism affect counter-terrorism efforts? and more...
Is US foreign policy effective at preventing terrorism?
Some people might argue that US foreign policy exacerbates terrorism. Our enemy, if you will, uses our foreign policy to suggest that, in the case of Islam, that this is a war against their religion, and given media networks overseas such as Al-Jezeera and others, they use what we do to suggest that this is a holy war. So our foreign policy really needs to engage communities across the globe in explaining what we do, why we're doing it, and partner with them. I don't think our foreign policy is going to be effective unless we partner with other countries who have the same terrorist concerns that we do in addressing those concerns. I think it's very important.
How has American intelligence evolved since 9-11 to prevent and combat terrorism?
The CIA's primary responsibility is intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis and post September 11th, intelligence sharing. Before September 11th that didn't happen. There were agencies that didn't play well in the sand box together. Since that time we've been able to really connect globally with our intelligence partners. I'm now personally able to reach out to people in Great Britain, Canada, Israel, Spain, Australia, the Philippines at a moments notice if anything happens, to ask them what they're hearing, what they're seeing, what their intelligence officers are telling them. We can connect the dots.
How does the global nature of terrorism affect counter-terrorism efforts?
He's a former CIA agent. His area of expertise is social network analysis. People like him are looking at, quite simply, connecting the dots. These organizations now, specifically groups like al Qaeda, because they're decentralized, we need to be able to look at what kinds of activities are happening around the globe and connect people who are working in concert with each other on perhaps a large-scale or even local attack. Sometimes they're just one degree apart in the way of knowing each other. And if we know what these nodes are we might have a single point of failure and be able to thwart an attack. So intelligence is the key to Counter Terrorism efforts around the world.
What role does law enforcement play in preventing terrorism?
If we're lucky enough to detect or deter or thwart an act of terrorism, its going to be a local law enforcement person. Several years ago, in 2005, we had a group that was here in Los Angeles and they were a radicalized set of JIS. It translates as The Assembly of Authentic Islam. They were going to target Los Angeles International airport, the Israeli consulate, several national guard centers and some synagogues. It was local law enforcement, as these gentlemen were out there conducting, or I should say engaging in, robberies from gas stations. They were able to, after a search warrant, put together the pieces that they were going to be engaging in a large scale terrorist attack and they weren't just gas station robbers. And so it's those kind of things that are going to help us detect and catch terrorists.