The threat of home-grown terrorism

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PAWAN LUTHRA’s editorial on terrorism that is a bit closer to home
Television coverage of the dramatic 24 hours since the FBI released the photos of the alleged two Boston bombers seemed like a Hollywood movie. Thousands of FBI, ATF agents and heavily armed police walking the streets or being driven across in buses, armoured carriers on the roads, police cars with flashing lights, distant sounds of gun fire. All of these highlighted the strength of the internal security forces of the US, as they experienced for the first time the effects of home grown terrorism.
The elder Tamarlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, are both ethnic Chechens, who immigrated to the US roughly a decade ago, and were legal residents living with their parents in a Boston suburb. The younger brother became a citizen just last year.
A motion introduced in the US Senate defined home-grown terrorism as the ?use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the US or any possession of the US to intimidate or coerce the US government, the civilian population of the US, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives?.
The US, UK, much of Europe and Australia, all have largely migrant populations and face an increasing risk of home-grown terrorism. While considerable attention has been made in developing a means to prevent overseas terrorism activities reaching the homeland through increased surveillance, airport security and cooperation between various countries, home-grown terrorism is a more difficult evil to combat. While international plots are an ever-constant threat, the challenge now being faced by authorities is the nightmare of small-scale attacks carried out by individuals located within the country itself.
Many settlement issues emerge with second generation migrants: this was evidenced in the London bombings of 2007 and in the latest Boston attack. The youth are at odds with the values and lifestyles of their new home. Coupled with socio-economic issues such as a lack of economic growth, high youth unemployment rates, increasing levels of anti-austerity unrest especially across Europe, and rumours of contingency plans to restrict immigration in countries in the event of a financial collapse, together create a perfect storm for the educated youth who now have the means through the internet to pick up skills which can lead to acts of terrorism.
It will be foolhardy to take the eye off the ball on the issue of terrorism, especially of the home-grown variety. Prime Minister Gillard announced in January that the threat of terrorism as we know it, is over, with her national security strategy aiming to build closer links with Asia and toughen Australia?s cyber security defences. At the same time Ms Gillard warned that the budget for domestic security will only get tighter. This seems to be a bold view, perhaps akin to former President George W. Bush landing on the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003 and making that ?mission accomplished? announcement. Over hundreds of thousands of lives have since been lost in Iraq.
From a migrant community point of view, it is important to emphasise the significance of acceptance to our youth growing up in Australia. Society is a product of evolution and is a sum of its entire people. While the views and lifestyles of others may not be similar to ours, the discussion needs to centre on contributing back to society via a different value system: if there is good in it, it will be picked up and add another step in the evolution of our overall society. Society and lifestyles are what we contribute to it rather than what is imposed on us.

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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