SAN DIEGO: Domestic terrorism is on at the forefront of America’s minds following the recent horrific shootings and murders occurring in El Paso, Texas and Dayton Ohio. Getting far less media coverage is the shootings in Chicago that closed down hospitals (7 Killed, 46 Wounded In Weekend Shootings – CBS Chicago).
Or that Baltimore, Maryland is experiencing its worst murder rate ever. (Murders Increase In Baltimore Through First Half Of 2019)
Coping with the onslaught of domestic terrorism
Reports of mass shootings on American soil have left feelings of shock, fear, despair, and vulnerability. On any given day and at any time those we care about the most could become victims.
For some, feelings of vulnerability began with the occurrence of September 11, 2001. The Twin Tower bombings forever changing our country. Words like terrorism, suicide bombers, mass shootings, domestic terrorism are increasingly commonplace.
All representing a time when individual freedoms are now at risk.
Few travel without consulting the latest travel advisories from the Department of Homeland Security or the State Department, which provide global threat risk assessment relative to terrorist activity.
But the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave naively believes that there is safety so long as they were on American soil.
With the rise in domestic terrorism, Americans now must consider where and how to venture forth conducting everyday life while remaining safe.
Who is the domestic terrorist?
According to the FBI, domestic terrorism is perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily US-based movements. They are groups extremist in their ideology whether it is political, religious, social, racial or environmentally inspired.
The availability of social media and violent US extremists groups with the Internet being the most successful vehicle for radicalization.
It could also be that international terrorist groups invade the minds and hearts of impressionable personalities. Through media and technical means, who might be prone to or susceptible to the influence of radical ideas from others.
The American Psychological Association is conducting ongoing studies into the personalities which might be more prone to the influences of extremist groups. Those individuals who feel alienated or disenfranchised who might find purpose in joining such groups. Who seek the psychological benefits of belonging, taking action believing perhaps that their violent behavior is justified.
Narcissists and psychopaths would be particularly prone to what would be considered amoral behavior, or that which is against social norms, while not experiencing any real sense of remorse or regret even if conducting murderous acts.
The key might be recognizing vulnerable personalities, ideally early on while in school, to help shape positive interpersonal skills and provide the tools to become healthy individuals.
According to Mike McGarrity, an FBI top counterterrorism official,
“Violent extremists around the world have access to our local communities to target and recruit and spread their messages of hate on a global scale….”
A growing priority
Garrity further laments that
“There is no domestic terrorism statute…The Justice Department relies on other statutes to prosecute ideologically motivated violence by people with no international ties.”
Though international terrorism remains at the fore of law enforcements’ concern, the growth of domestic terrorism is starting to become an equal priority.
In a 2019 TRAC Reports analysis of Terrorism-Related Prosecutions by Type, 2013-2017, domestic terrorism cases 404 versus international terrorism which totaled 223 cases.
Published by Psychology Today, Susan Heitler, Ph.D. contrasted terrorism to domestic batterers. (What Domestic Batterers Can Teach Us About Terrorism) Her analogy raises the issue of bullying on the playground as potentially indicative of future domestic abusers, dictators, and terrorists.
Heitler identifies key characteristics. Like those exhibiting the need for control or physical violence, while being unable to recognize behavior which is destructive. Those with seeming little or no remorse who do require professional intervention.
She further emphasizes parenting education and partnering education, therefore, with the philosophy that learning to become abusive begins at home from being treated abusively.
It is clear that mental health counselors and providers are in key positions to identify those characteristics which would later become destructive to others later in life.
The FBI offers the following steps to identify suspicious behavior of malicious or terrorist organizations:
1. Remain aware of your surroundings while avoiding anything appearing suspicious.
2. Refrain from oversharing personal information especially on-line.
3. Say something if you see something–do not hesitate to get help.
Reaching out to law enforcement and/or key organizations is critical, especially if there is victimization by terrorism of any kind:
TalkWithUs text 66746
National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC)
Dial 711 in more than 200 languages, hearing and speech impaired
Criminal Justice Process Information
Coping with Grief after Domestic Terrorism
Potential Domestic Terrorism is often by males, 18-25-year-olds. They tend to be loners and have dominant personality traits of pathological narcissism or psychopathy. Knowing this we can discern a variety of personality characteristics which are potential red flags for negative social behavior. Traits that may require mental health intervention now or in the future
Living in the US, or traveling abroad, being aware and vigilant are critically necessary to prevent becoming a victim or having a loved one become one.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!