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

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across a keyboard
Showing posts with label Allen Norton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Allen Norton. Show all posts

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Domestic Terrorism: Information for Writers with Cpl. Allen Norton



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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. 


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.


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Terrorism 101: Information for Writers with Corporal 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.

This article is the first article in a planned series on terrorism with ThrillWriting's guest, Corporal Allen Norton. I was so excited to have met the very knowledgeable and entertaining Cpl. Norton at a lecture on terrorism. He had the room transfixed. 

Fiona - 
Corporal Allen Norton

Corporal Allen, thank you so much for sharing your information with us. Can we start with an introduction of your background? How did you come to be an anti-terrorism instructor?

Cpl. Norton - 
In 2007, I 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. I've attended the National Center for Bio-medical Research and Training through Louisiana State University and recently graduated from the University of St. Andrews, where I obtained a Global Certification as a Terrorism Specialist. In addition, I am a recognized Certified Homeland Protection Professional (C.H.P.P.) I obtained this certification through the National Sheriffs Association and the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition.

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



GDSI Intelligence and Training - website link
and on Facebook - click here


Fiona - 
You had a very personal brush with terror.

Cpl. Norton - 
I was supposed to be in the World Trade Center on 9/11 for a meeting. At the time, I served as Director of Security for three resorts in the Poconos. Fortunately, I overslept that morning.

Fiona - 
Very fortunate!

We met at a lecture, and the very first thing that you pointed out was that every government agency has their own definition of terrorism. Is there a reason that we do not have a national definition? How does this pose problems in working across agencies? 

Cpl. Norton - 
I cannot give a 100% definite reason as to why each agency and state has their own definition. My guess would be that each government agency wants to be the one to determine what it is. Like the rivalry between police and fire, each wants to be in control of the scene. 

The major issue is that working for an agency, you have to be able to enforce the laws of that agency. It is hard for individuals that serve on different task forces. They have to be very mindful of the capacity that they are serving in, and enforce that agencies definition. 

Fiona - 
Can you sift the definition down to one so that we can get a basic understanding as it applies to the U.S.?

Cpl. Norton - 
My personal favorite is the one offered by the Department of Defense, which states: 
Terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. 
This definition is my favorite because it lists religious, something that most of the others fail to list. The significance is that in this day and age, there is probably a 5:1 ratio of religious groups to political groups. 

Amazingly, there is only one definition for domestic terrorism, which 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.

Fiona
How do they decide who has control over the case? Who maintains jurisdiction?

Cpl. Norton - 
The problem with most terrorist activities here in the U.S. we list the activities as criminal acts. Only once we've established a link between an event and a terrorist organization, are the FBI usually involved. In all terrorism cases here in the U.S., the FBI gets the lead. All terrorism cases that affect U.S. interests overseas the CIA gets the lead. 

Another issue that makes it difficult to determine who has jurisdiction is that we see gangs using terrorist tactics, and terrorists using gang tactics. The FBI, however, does do a good job serving as a go-to resource to help determine what agencies have jurisdiction.

Fiona - 
I was fascinated to learn that terrorism runs on a business plan and provides benefits. I am not talking about the virgins-in-the-sky kind of benefits either, I am talking about vacation pay. Can you talk about terrorism - both domestic and foreign as a business model?

Cpl. Norton -
One of the definitions of business is "an occupation, profession or trade." For most terrorist organizations what they are trying to accomplish, whether it be religious or political, they see as an occupation for God or the people. They are doing their work. Therefore, they are working for them. Domestic terrorism is less of a business than the international terrorist groups. Practically all of the domestic terrorists have regular jobs that they do.

Al-Qaeda, for example, does operate as a business. They, as well as other organizations, still promise 72 virgins, the chance to live in the lands of milk and honey, and they get to touch the face of God. 

These perks are only for males though; women get family redemption.

Fiona - 
Family redemption? I mean that is a nice gesture and everything... but there are other things that might entice me a bit more.

Cpl. Norton - 
Understand that family redemption for women is very important in the Islamic religion. 

Most of these women are raped into the organizations, therefore, making them impure. The only way they can purify themselves, and be right for God, is to do His bidding (as they are told).

There are many ways to entice women, but the most popular are:
* They are raped-in 
* They want family redemption 
* They have lost family to the enemy and want revenge 
* Or in many cases, they want to prove that they can fight and die
    just as well as a man can. 
* Some women are romantically involved with members of the
    organization, and it is just natural that they join.

Fiona - 
Let's do a little myth-busting. 

Cpl. Norton - 
Myths of Terrorism -

1. Terrorism is a new tactic.
    Terrorism can be traced to biblical times, but the first time it was
     used in the context we use it today was 1792 during the French
     Revolution. A British scholar said, "What is
     happening in France is terroristic."

2. One person’s terrorist is another person’s liberator. 
    That statement is in the eye of the beholder. If you ask a terrorist
     group if they are terrorists 9 out of 10 times they will say no.
     They will call themselves Freedom Fighters or Liberators. 
     Therefore the term is very political loaded. 

    Terrorism itself is part of a strategy. No one goes out and says, "I
    am going to terrorize people." It is a tactic that is used to reach
    one's goals.
   
3. Historically, terrorism has been assumed to be a left
    wing/revolutionary phenomena
    Right wing wants a return to a previous time.
    Left wing wants to  create a new reality.
    The reality is that there is a 5:1 Right wing to left wing terrorist
    ratio right now  

4. Terrorism is highly effective 
     No, it is part of a strategy. It is also important to realize that
     when terrorists receive what they are asking for, they will not
     stop and be happy. They will continue to do what they do, but
     next time ask for more. 

5. Terrorists are idealistic – 
    Terrorists use their ideology to gain power.

6. Humane behavior is sacrificed for revolutionary goals.
    The goal is power. 

7. Terrorism is for the poor.
    In reality, the people with high status within and organization
    come from very wealthy families.


Fiona -     
You have a list of the planning stage steps that all terror acts follow. 

Cpl. Norton - 
Yes, every terrorist organization uses this planning cycle:

Planning cycle  

• Broad target selection 
• Intelligence and surveillance 
• Specific target selection 
• Pre-attack surveillance and planning 
• Attack rehearsal  
• Actions on the objective 
• Escape and exploitation

Fiona - 
What is the point of no return? Where do the good guys usually catch the cell's planning?

Cpl. Norton - 
Catching a terrorist event before it happens is the ultimate goal. However, for the good guys to completely disrupt the event, it has to be caught before the attack rehearsal. Once the terrorists have all of the information, it's almost impossible to stop,  If we are able to disrupt the attack during the rehearsal stage, the terrorists already have all the information they need. If we arrest a group, then the terrorist organization simply finds others to train. Anytime you can foil it before then; they have to start all over. They have to be lucky once, we have to be lucky always.

Fiona - 
Can we talk about ideology and how they get the message out to possible followers?

Cpl. Norton -
Ideology is at the heart of all major decisions and choices the terrorist group makes. The avenues terrorist use to spread their ideology are: 
* Mass media
* Internet 
* Political fronts
* Literature dissemination 
One of the biggest recruiting tools is Social Media. Moreover, there are no laws against that.

Fiona - 
What are the usual tactics that terrorists use? Also, who are the targets? 

Cpl. Norton - 

The 6 Traditional Tactics: 

* Arson 
* Assault 
* Bombing 
* Hijacking 
* Hostage taking 
* Kidnapping 


Newer Tactics: 

* Threat-Hoax 
* Raid or Ambush 
* Seizure 
* Assassination 
* Weapons of Mass Destruction

Targets: 

* Governments 
* People 
* Other countries and their people


Fiona - 
Thank you so much, Cpl. Norton. I am so looking forward to learning more in this series. 

Also, thanks to you writers who do their research here on ThrillWriting. Hopefully, this has given you some plotting points for your WIP. While this article is only the first in a series, if you have a question or comment, please leave it below. The comments are moderated to block SPAM, so it will go up ASAP. In the meantime, if you find this resource to be helpful, I would appreciate your spreading the word. I've placed some handy-dandy social media buttons below.

Cheers,
Fiona