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Homeland Security Network to Address Domestic Extremism

Domestic extremism in the United States is now the most significant terror threat inside our nation according to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Although it has certainly been in the news more recently following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, extremists within our homeland eclipsed overseas threats some time ago. In an upcoming webinar, student organization Homeland Security Network will address domestic terrorism during its May 13 annual meeting.

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Domestic Extremism within the US

The first-ever DHS Homeland Threat Assessment report from October 2020 with a message by then-Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf of the Trump administration stated: “As Americans, we all have the right to believe whatever we want, but we don’t have a right to carry out acts of violence to further those beliefs. The Department works with other Government, non-Government, and private sector partners to prevent individuals from making this transition from protected speech to domestic terrorism reflected by violence.

“As Secretary, I am concerned about any form of violent extremism. That is why we design our programs to be threat agnostic – ensuring that we can combat a broad range of domestic threats. However, I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years.”

The report not only addresses foreign terrorists such as al Qaeda and ISIS that have been in the forefront of terrorism for the last 20 years, but it also goes on to discuss three different categories of extremists within the homeland. These categories include purely Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) and foreign terrorist-inspired Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) as well as stating, “Among DVEs, racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists—specifically white supremacist extremists (WSEs)—will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland.”

A more recent March 2021 Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice (DOJ), and DHS unclassified summary of the joint comprehensive threat assessment on domestic violent extremism lists more detailed categories of Domestic Violent Extremists, including a variety of ideologies and causes that span the political and religious spectrum as depicted in the chart below.

Image courtesy of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Homeland Security Network to Address Domestic Extremism in an Upcoming Webinar

During its annual meeting on May 13, 2021, the Homeland Security Network (HSN) student organization will address the topic of domestic extremism in a webinar featuring a virtual lecture and a live online discussion. The webinar will cover domestic extremist causes and the nature of their corresponding threat levels, among other topics.

What Is the Homeland Security Network?

The Homeland Security Network was established at the university six years ago on April 7, 2015. This student organization was created to provide field-specific networking, as well as access to academic and professional resources to support national safety and security.

Membership is available year-round to students and alumni in good academic standing in all degree fields at American Military University and American Public University. Some of the benefits of HSN membership include:

  • Developing leadership skills in national safety and security
  • Sharing resources and networking with members of the homeland security community
  • Gaining a high level of appreciation towards the comprehensive nature of national security through virtual meetings and open discussions
  • Participating in engaging conversations focused on experiences, career guidance and the importance of homeland security in today’s society

Joining the Homeland Security Network

The Homeland Security Network has consistently maintained the highest “platinum” level standing per the university’s Chapter Standards program, which demonstrates the highest level of chapter involvement and denotes excellence in chapter leadership and member engagement. Current students and alumni who wish to join the Homeland Security Network can complete a membership application.

Dr. Jeffrey V. Gardner is an assistant professor of Homeland Security Studies at American Military University and serves as one of the faculty advisors for the Homeland Security Network. Jeff retired from active duty as a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel serving over 21 years. Since 2013, he has worked for NATO to develop and run events related to counter-terrorism, intelligence, countering hybrid threats, and comprehensive defense.

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