Napolitano Responds to Surge of Homegrown Terrorism Cases

Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times, December 19, 2009

With more Americans suspected in plots, the Homeland Security secretary has stepped up intelligence sharing with state and city law enforcement and increased outreach to Muslim communities.

Responding to a surge of terrorism cases involving American suspects, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says her department is deploying more intelligence analysts nationwide and expanding teams that do outreach with Muslim communities.

In an interview this week, Napolitano outlined a strategy against radicalization that features stepped-up intelligence sharing with state and city law enforcement agencies as well as increased efforts to engage American Muslims and prevent backlash against them.

She suggested that economic hard times and the spread of the Internet have contributed to the challenges.

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In a recent speech, Napolitano issued a strong warning about “home-based terrorism.”

During the interview, she said it was hard to pinpoint reasons for the trend, but she noted that economic hard times spur anger and disenchantment. She also cited a wave of propaganda aimed at aspiring American extremists.

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Napolitano said she has already re-deployed about 36 intelligence analysts from Washington to beef up 72 “fusion centers” created around the country during the previous administration.

She intends to send more analysts to those centers, where federal officials work with local investigators to share intelligence and provide training on detecting potential threats.

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Napolitano said she is also expanding “engagement teams” of the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties that are in charge of improving ties between the government and Muslim communities.

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