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U.S. counterterrorism efforts moving forward - Ali

September 21, 2021

Javed Ali, associate professor of practice and counterterrorism expert, provided counterterrorism insights in a number of news outlets this week.

"9/11 was such a profoundly important moment, not only in US history, but I would argue in international history. It has really shaped the trajectory of the last 20 years in ways that was very difficult to know in those early moments right after 9/11," Ali told BBC World News. "We’ve had many counterterrorism successes and achievements, but sometimes those successes and achievements have come at a higher cost."

Over the last few years, U.S. counterterrorism priorities have shifted.

"The Biden administration has not released a public national counterterrorism strategy, but in June it published the country’s first-ever national strategy on domestic terrorism, a welcome development given the rise in this threat in the United States the past several years, as evidenced by the brazen plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year and the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021," Ali wrote in an op-ed for The Cipher.

The number of private militias across the country has generated a new security concern: domestic terrorism.

"In fall of 2020 ... I'm not sure anyone even in Michigan had ever heard of the Wolverine Watchmen," Ali told WDET. "Their association in that group in and of itself, that’s not what got them in trouble. What got them in trouble was the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer.”

The polarization of American politics and the Trump administration heavily contributed to the rise in domestic terrorism, according to Ali.

"I spent my last year of government service as a senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council during the Trump administration," he told Channel News Asia. "So that the role that President Trump and his rhetoric, that I think in part is in parcel of that discussion about misinformation and disinformation and the polarized nature of politics."

Domestic terrorism is the top concern, and Ali says that international terrorism is still a small threat to the U.S.

“I don’t think Americans have to live in fear, but we should be clear-eyed and realistic about the world that we live in right now,” he told NewsNation. “Those groups’ ability to launch the types of spectacular, coordinated mass casualty operations directly into the United States is much lower, or it’s been reduced to a significant degree. But that doesn’t mean the threat is zero because these groups still at their core believe in attacking the United States.”

Read and watch the news items featuring Ali below: