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Countering Violent Extremism
in Congressional Research Service Reports
The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress (R42536, January 2013) (69pp | 730kb | PDF) — “The U.S. government reacted to 9/11 by greatly enhancing its counterterrorism efforts. This report discusses how domestic terrorists broadly fit into this new counterterrorism landscape, a terrain that in the last 10 years has been largely shaped in response to terrorists inspired by foreign ideologies. This report focuses especially on how domestic terrorism is conceptualized by the federal government and issues involved in assessing this threat’s significance. Today (perhaps in part because of the government’s focus on international terrorist ideologies) it is difficult to evaluate the scope of domestic terrorist activity. For example, federal agencies employ varying terminology and definitions to describe it. Also, domestic terrorism-related intelligence collection efforts have not necessarily received the same attention as similar efforts to counter foreign threats. Beyond these issues, the Obama Administration’s community outreach-driven strategy to quell terrorism-related radicalization in the United States focuses on individuals inspired by Al Qaeda. How domestic terrorism fits into this strategy is unclear. Congress may opt to examine these and other issues related to domestic terrorism.”

American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat (R41416, January 2013) (141pp | 1.23 mb | PDF) — “This report describes homegrown violent jihadists and the plots and attacks that have occurred since 9/11. For this report, “homegrown” describes terrorist activity or plots perpetrated within the United States or abroad by American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized largely within the United States. The term “jihadist” describes radicalized individuals using Islam as an ideological and/or religious justification for their belief in the establishment of a global caliphate, or jurisdiction governed by a Muslim civil and religious leader known as a caliph. The term “violent jihadist” characterizes jihadists who have made the jump to illegally supporting, plotting, or directly engaging in violent terrorist activity.” 

Countering Violent Extremism in the United States (R42553, May 2012) (33pp | 672kb | PDF) — “In August 2011, the Obama Administration announced its counter-radicalization strategy. It is devised to address the forces that influence some people living in the United States to acquire and hold radical or extremist beliefs that may eventually compel them to commit terrorism. This is the first such strategy for the federal government, which calls this effort ‘combating violent extremism’ (CVE). Since the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has prosecuted hundreds of individuals on terrorism charges. Unlike the necessarily secretive law enforcement and intelligence efforts driving these investigations, the CVE strategy includes sizeable government activity within the open marketplace of ideas, where private citizens are free to weigh competing ideologies and engage in constitutionally protected speech and expression. Some of the key challenges in the implementation of the CVE strategy likely spring from the interplay between the marketplace of ideas and the secretive realm encompassing law enforcement investigations and terrorist plotting…This report provides examples of recent Administration CVE activity and examines some of the risks and challenges evident in the SIP [Strategic Implementation Plan]’s three objectives. The report also diagrams and briefly discusses the ‘future activities and efforts’ outlined in the SIP for each of these three objectives.” 

Source: Page created by the DHS/Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the DHS/Privacy Office in cooperation with the DOJ, Office of Justice Programs.

Last date revised: 08/10/13