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Will Drones Become A Weapon for Terror Attacks?

Will Drones Become A Weapon for Terror Attacks?

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By Dr. James Hess, Faculty Director and Associate Professor of Intelligence Studies at American Military University

On Dec. 16, 11 a.m. Eastern, American Military University (AMU) and Purdue University’s Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments (VACCINE) will explore the threat of drone terror attacks and valuable research tools available to prevent them, including the Terrorism and Extremist Violence in the United States (TEVUS) Portal. The TEVUS portal is a free, public-facing tool available courtesy of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). This joint AMU and Purdue’s Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence webinar, “Harnessing the Power of TEVUS,” is part of an ongoing collaboration series for nearly two years that is open to all students and interested parties.

[Register now for the “Harnessing the Power of TEVUS” live webinar at 11 a.m., December 16]

Historically, the series format pairs a professor or research scientist from both AMU and Purdue to examine a common themes related to U.S. Department of Homeland Security interests and which is represented in the national conversation. For the first time, the webinar will be presented by a student and graduate from AMU. The presenters are Matthew Hughes and Liberty Day.

Matt Hughes is a Military Intelligence Officer on Active Duty, specializing in all-source and signals intelligence. Matt commissioned in 2011 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, where he earned a B.S. in Arabic and Spanish and minored in Terrorism Studies. He earned his M.A. in Intelligence Studies from AMU in 2016. He is currently assigned to Fort Hood, TX, where he resides with his wife and children. Matt is passionate about languages and cultures, having demonstrated proficiency in 11 different languages and dialects, which he hopes to leverage through military service and international diplomacy. Interests in predictive analysis and counterterrorism fuel his Arabic studies and research on looming national security threats.

Liberty Day is the Training Manager at START, where she assists efforts to develop a broader training capacity that focuses on making START faculty research findings accessible to policymakers and practitioners. Liberty is primarily responsible for curriculum development, training delivery, and program management. Prior to her position at START, she provided direct counseling services, delivered in-person and web-based training, developed and delivered curricula, managed client-specific projects, and assisted with grants management. Liberty earned an M.S. in Education, Counseling Psychology, from the University of Kentucky. She is also an alumna of Georgetown College with a B.A. in Political Science.

Webinar Abstract

The TEVUS Portal is a free, public-facing online interface and visualization tool that compiles behavioral, geographic, and temporal characteristics of extremist violence in the U.S. dating back to 1970. Users have access to the underlying TEVUS Database, an open-source database that holds a wealth of information on terrorism and extremist crime. Users are able to build customized search queries that allow exploration of data locally, regionally, or nationally and over time. When used properly, the TEVUS Portal is a powerful tool that helps practitioners make informed, data-driven decisions while providing valuable historical context that aids in terrorism threat assessment. This presentation will introduce participants to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), the TEVUS database, and the TEVUS Portal.

The evolving nature of lone-wolf terrorism in the U.S. poses dilemmas to policymakers and agencies responsible for national security. The recent advent of affordable consumer drones is of particular interest, as they can bypass traditional security measures and carry varying payloads. What is the feasibility of a lone wolf using an explosive-laden consumer drone to conduct an attack in the United States? Exploring trends in domestic lone-wolf terrorism, the Diffusion of Innovations Theory, existing drone countermeasures, and policies governing drone technology and sales aid in assessing the feasibility of such a threat.

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