On Thursday, the Price School of Public Policy’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events hosted a lecture featuring Professor Erroll G. Southers on the threat of homegrown terrorism.
Acknowledging the attacks at the Los Angeles International Airport and Boston Marathon, Southers discussed the increase of homegrown terrorism threats.
“Even as foreign terrorists seek ways to harm U.S. citizens and interests, there is a growing threat from domestic extremists [who are] able to execute lethal attacks while eluding much of the U.S. homeland security apparatus,” Southers wrote in his new book Homegrown Violent Terrorism.
Southers served as President Obama’s first nominee for assistant secretary of the TSA. He noted in his lecture that it’s interesting that Obama is the first African-American president, has an Arabic sounding last name and a Muslim father.
“The average threats per day, the first year when he was in office, [was] 30 per day,” Southers said. “When President Bush was in office, it [was] five to 10 per day. Over 700 percent increase in the number of patriot groups occurred in the first three years of Obama’s administration.”
Southers addressed the difficulty of defining modern terrorism, noting that there are 109 definitions of terrorism, so placing it under one category is nearly impossible.
“There’s no internationally recognized words to define terrorism,” he said. “Globally, we cannot agree on what it is.”
Southers said though terrorism is highly prevalent, evidence is hard to collect. He said that it’s hard to pinpoint the main influence of terrorism because it is not always the result of individual action.
“When we are looking at this, we are looking at group behavior,” Southers said. “Over time, people will agree to [what] the majority is saying, which makes it hard to profile the prisoners. There is no profile you can get.”
Audience member Sisley Brunon, an alumna of USC, stressed that education on the issue of homegrown terrorism is important for self-protection.
“We need to look inward to protect our nation. Educate yourself the things that happened within the United States,” Brunon said. “In order to protect our future, and the growth of this nation, everyone needs to educate himself with what Dr. Southers taught today.”