Since 9/11, the United States has adopted a range of law enforcement and intelligence strategies aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks. Domestically, these measures included hardening physical barriers around sensitive locations and critical infrastructure; improving ID checks and screening at airports, seaports, and other entry points; and beefing up investigation and prosecution capabilities for terrorism-related crimes. For the most part, these tactics have succeeded in keeping us safe from 9/11-style, complex terrorist attacks that are planned and executed from afar. But, as this weekend’s bombing in New York City and stabbing spree in a Minnesota mall prove, no amount of policing can prevent committed, disturbed individuals, with easy access to weapons and online “how to” manuals, from carrying out small but deadly attacks against the homeland.

That is because as law enforcement and intelligence agencies plugged holes in our security architecture, our terrorist adversaries also adapted. Increasingly, US citizens or legal residents with clean records — like the San Bernardino killers or Dylann Roof — have been responsible for heinous attacks. And unlike in the past, these terrorists are often acting alone, against soft targets, using rudimentary tactics that require little training or external support. Adding to the complexity, terrorists’ prolific use of social media means that wannabee terrorists can consume propaganda, get inspired, and learn how to execute an attack — without ever leaving their homes. These factors have created a cacophony of threats, making it more challenging for law enforcement to isolate genuine plots from the background noise.

Read More: Boston Globe

Featured Image –FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force – Wikimedia Commons