Monday, December 1, 2014

International Terrorism: Info for Writers with Cpl. Allen Norton



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US Navy 020312-O-0000X-001 Homeland Security A...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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.



Fiona - 

People have been wreaking terror across borders since time immemorial. At what point do we draw a distinction between raiding and terrorist activity?



Cpl. Norton -

When it comes to International Terrorism the oldest in existence (The Father of Modern Day Terrorism) is the Irish Republican Army or IRA. Interesting enough, they actually formed in New York City during the late 1800s as the Finian Force.

Fiona - 

When I think "terrorism" my mind jumps to the Middle East - and parts of Africa. Is that because those are our only threats, and the IRA etc. target other countries, do you think?


Cpl. Norton 
Probably, but when it comes to the IRA more Americans willingly donate to that terrorist organization over any other. Most from the Boston-NYC region. Interestingly, you bring up the Middle East; did you know that the first terrorist organization there was Jewish?
They were known as the Irgun and very active in the 1940s against the British. One of their prime leaders was Menachem Begin. 

Fiona - 
I had no idea. So you do a lot of training in the area of terrorism, can you tell us what are the main ingredients in our "stay safe soup"? 

Cpl. Norton - 
The United States does plenty. Overseas partners with other countries (Jordan is VERY good) is vital. The CIA does a good job also.

The Terrorist Screening Center, which was established after 9/11 has become a vital tool also for the US local authorities

Fiona - 
You can check it out with this Video Quick Study. Inside a secret U.S. Terrorist Screening Center CBS News.

Cpl. Norton, if I was a writer putting a character in a situation overseas - an American citizen -  would the American government do anything to help me? Would this be public? Would they work behind the scenes? And any chance that a SEAL team might go in and save me?

Cpl. Norton - 

They would, but with politics today I guess it would matter how important the person was if it would be public or not. SEAL Teams have obviously been used before, but that is usually a last resort.

Fiona - 
When you are reading books/watching shows and movies about terror - and I know you are stepping carefully in this interview - what are the holes in the cloth of the story line. What are the writers getting wrong based on false understanding or even cinematic expedience?

Cpl. Norton - 
I think one of the biggest issues, and we discussed this in the Domestic Terrorism interview is that nothing is solved in 1-2 hours. It's not always as exciting as Hollywood or the newspapers make it seem. 

Probably one of the biggest pet peeves I have is that the investigations in shows are illegal for the most part. A lot of the techniques that people use are just impossible to use in real life, whether because you just can't or because it's illegal. Plus a lot goes into an investigation; it's not just one thing that solves an incident. It's many building blocks that add up to a case.

Fiona - 
Can we discuss the concept of terrorism as a career choice? One of the things that struck me when I attended your lecture was the educational levels of the people who are recruited.

Cpl. Norton - 
Sure, to be anything in a terrorist organization a college degree is mandatory. I'm talking bio-chemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, economic, business, etc. You pretty much have to be fluent in multiple languages. It takes a lot of smarts to run a terrorist organization or to be anything important in one.

Fiona - 
And there are perks to your enrollment. You indicated that terrorist organizations work on a business model and even have sick leave and vacation time... can you speak to that and then my question would be - do they see themselves as professional terrorists? Soldiers? What?

Cpl. Norton - 
To become a terrorist, there's an application process. They get paid vacations, holiday pay, health insurance, etc. just like we do. They also can apply for certain positions within the organization, Al-Qaeda is probably the best known group for doing all this, though others do it also.

They would consider themselves professional freedom fighters. Rarely would a terrorist ever say they are a terrorist. They actually consider us the terrorists, so it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Fiona - 
My final question for you - Can you talk about familial impact? How does being in the family of a terrorist impact life and what happens if the terrorist martyrs himself? 

Cpl. Norton -
That's a great question Fiona. It's important to realize that some of the families of members of terrorist organizations do not support them or want them to be a part of it. Look at Osama bin Ladens family, they disowned him and excommunicated him from the family because they didn't support what he was doing. That's why terrorists hide their faces, it has nothing to do with cowardice, they are just protecting their family from retaliation. Whether the family supports them or not. 



Sometimes poor families will sell their children into terrorist organizations because they need the money, food or shelter that these groups promise. Other families are promised the world if a member blows themselves up for the cause. What's amazing about terrorist organizations is when they promise a family something they always deliver, if they didn't families would stop doing what they are doing for them. So actually, a terrorist organization is very trustworthy, weird as it sounds.

Fiona - 
Was there something I missed that you're dying to tell me?

Cpl. Norton - 

When it comes to terrorist organizations Hamas has the largest infrastructure of any foreign terrorist group on US soil. They have never intentionally attacked a US civilian or installation though, they are basically here for fund raising.

There are approximately 500 different foreign terrorist organizations on the earth right now. Only 58 are recognized by the U.S.

Fiona - 
You have been unbelievable kind to help us writers write it right.

Cpl. Norton - 
Thank you so much for the time speaking with you, these three interviews have been very enjoyable. If anyone has any questions or wants up to date info that is posted, please visit our Facebook page at GDSI Intelligence and Training and like us. Information is updated regularly.



Fiona - 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Fiona and Cpl. Norton. I'm days away from releasing my bio-terrorism thriller, Sword of the Prophet,
    and I tried my best to get the science right. Unfortunately, while doing my research, I never did stumble on Cpl. Norton or the resources he represents. I hope I didn't screw it up too badly, and will clip this for future use. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete