The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across a keyboard

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Domestic Terrorism: Information for Writers with Cpl. Allen Norton

DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.

ThrillWriting is pleased to welcome back Corporal Allen Norton. Cpl. Norton graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell with a certification in Homeland Security and also graduated from Columbia Southern University with a degree in Criminal Justice. He attended the National Center for Bio-medical Research and Training through Louisiana State University and recently graduated from the University of St. Andrews, and obtained a Global Certification as a Terrorism Specialist. In addition, he is a recognized Certified Homeland Protection Professional (C.H.P.P.) Cpl Norton obtained this certification through the National
Sheriffs Association and the National Domestic
Preparedness Coalition.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has employed him for 11 years. In his time with the Commonwealth, he served as a Task Force Officer for the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for 2 years.  Cpl Norton currently teaches an Evolution of Terrorism program, other various terrorism classes, that includes Sovereign Citizens, and History of Islam class, at local and regional police academies. He personally designed all of the classes. In addition, Cpl Norton owns GDSI Intelligence and Training.

Hello Corporal, today I thought we could talk about domestic terrorism in the United States, though domestic terrorism is a component of many countries.

Could we start with the difference between a gang and a domestic terrorist.

Cpl. Norton - 
Terrorists use gang tactics and gangs use terrorists tactics. For example, terrorist organizations shaking down people for protection money, drug trafficking, etc. and gangs using fire bombs, assassinations, etc. The best way to differentiate a terrorist group from a gang is the objective. Terrorists look for religious or political cause. Gangs are concerned with money, girls and turf. But because some have crossed into both categories (ex. New Black Panther Party), the US hasn't really labeled them as either. They're considered an extremist group.

Fiona - 
Is there a domestic terrorist definition? And who has jurisdiction once the group has been identified as domestic terrorists?

Cpl. Norton - 
Thankfully unlike terrorism in general, there is one definition for Domestic Terrorism. It states that: 

Domestic Terrorism is extreme force and violence perpetrated by residents of a country, within that country, for the purpose of coercing its government and population into modifying its behavior.

Jurisdiction is local, state or FBI. CIA has very little to do with DT (domestic Terrorism)

FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force
FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiona - 
How many different domestic terrorist groups do they think there are? Which is the largest/most dangerous/highest up on the bad-boy list?

Cpl. Norton - 
There are thousands in the U.S. 

The Sovereign Citizen Movement has been classified as the most dangerous, because they are anti-government. They believe that they are their own country, and the U.S. does not exist. Instead, they say the 14th amendment tricked people into being U.S. citizens. They have their own documents and license plates.

The biggest probably being the Ku Klux Klan

Top Groups/Causes:
Sovereign Citizen 
* White Supremacist 
* Abortion 
* Black Separatist 
* Animal rights 
* Environmental 
* Anti-genetic engineering

Fiona -
Do DT groups recruit on social media like international terrorist groups? Do they have training camps?

Cpl. Norton - 
Militias will stockpile weapons and conduct training at camps. They also have uniforms and insignias and go by military titles. They will call themselves Militia of Virginia, Militia of Montana, Militia of North Carolina, etc.

Social Media is their biggest recruitment tool, along with record companies that put out hate music. I wouldn't say they have training camps, more so "gatherings". The Sovereign Movement recruits by traveling around the country giving seminars.

Fiona - Can you talk about recruits - who they look for? How do they lure them in? How do they keep them engaged?

Cpl. Norton - 
They do it differently. The Black Separatists look for "hot spots" that are racially charged in which to recruit. White Extremists do it via Hate Music. Anti-Abortionists look for those who feel the same way about their cause. Simply put, they try to single out people with the same ideology as they have, the same hate, from there they just intensify the rhetoric, and ram it home, so to speak.

Fiona - 
So there are laws that allow Americans the freedom to think hateful thoughts, what kinds of laws protect people from acts of hatred? I guess I'm wondering where the line is drawn? 

Cpl. Norton - 
Once they act on those thoughts

Fiona - 
In books that include domestic terror - who do you think wrote it well? And what mistakes do you see?

Cpl. Norton - 
Timothy McVeigh was one of the best known domestic terrorists, his favorite read was the Turner Diaries. A blueprint on right wing extremism because it was written by Andrew McDonald. Andrew McDonald is the pen name for William Pierce, the founder of the National Alliance.

Fiona - 
And National Alliance is...

Cpl. Norton - 
The largest white supremacist group ever founded.

Founded in 1967 in West Virginia, they hate everyone not white and Jewish people. Publish a magazine called National Vanguard, Claimed that 9/11 was because of the United States support of Israel, Best Financed and best organized white national organization, record label called resistance Records, Weekly radio show.

Rarely do you hear about the National Alliance.

Fiona -
Do you think media gets portrayals of domestic terrorism correct?

Cpl. Norton - 
Actually, I try to shy away from TV shows about DT. Some groups are so good they don't get caught, like members of the Earth Liberation Front or Earth First. The tactics are so sophisticated; they change clothes, shoes after attacks, put socks over their shoes so no footprints are used, use kitchen timers. When you watch TV it's all solved in 60 minutes, just doesn't happen this way.

Fiona - 
How dangerous is this for common Americans? Are the FBI on them tight enough that we're pretty safe?

Cpl. Norton - 

The problem with these groups is that there is nothing illegal about them being existence. The hardest thing for law enforcement is that even though we know they're there, unless they do something, their hands are tied. They have to act on it, before it's a crime. That's what makes them so dangerous

Fiona - 
Does law enforcement join them to keep an eye? Do the agents ever swing and become terrorists themselves?

Cpl. Norton - 
I have not known any to become terrorists. But law enforcement does infiltrate them, and they infiltrate law enforcement, and the military. The ones who do that have to be real good though, to be caught is certain death

Fiona - 
Wait - they infiltrate law enforcement? Who has to be real good or dead? How do you get to be real good?

Cpl Norton.

That also makes it tough, we learn about what each other is doing the same time we learn how to defeat each other. Sure, they join law enforcement agencies and the military, that's how they get good training. If a cop is found to be in a DT organization or outlaw motorcycle gang, they surely are killed.

Obviously, ones with criminal records can't join a law enforcement agency because of background checks. But ones with clean records that an agency hasn't come across yet is like you or me.

Fiona - 
Me? Clean? Don't assume.

Cpl. Norton - 
You just made me more interested in you, lol.

Fiona - 
We're out of time - I'll just have to leverage that into another interview. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

Readers, check out our Terrorism 101 interview by clicking on the article below. And thanks for stopping by today. If you like this site, please spread the word. Also, you can post questions and comments below - moderated for SPAM so don't expect them to go up right away. Happy plotting! Cheers, Fiona

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