Friday, November 2, 2007

Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

On October 23, the House passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR 1955) by vote of 404 - 6. The bill now moves to the Senate.

According to an October 24 PR Newswire Report, the bill creates a National Commission to examine the causes of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism and propose recommendations and legislative strategies for mitigating these threats. It also establishes a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Radicalization and Home Grown Terrorism that will study the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of the problem to provide further suggestions for action to address these dangers.

Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) issued the following statement regarding the legislation:
"This vital legislation puts our nation on the path to addressing an emerging threat -- homegrown terrorism. We simply don't know how many would-be terrorists' are living right next door. Now we will have the ability to analyze our and other nations' experience with this critical issue, propose and adopt recommendations for a safer America, and also protect civil rights and liberties of U.S. Citizens."

Chair Jane Harman (D-CA) added the following:
"The threat of a 'Made in the USA' suicide bomber has never been greater," said Harman. "This bill, though not a silver bullet, will help develop a better understanding of the root causes of homegrown terrorism, and the steps we can take to stop it. We must intervene before a person crosses the line separating radical views from violent behavior, create an environment that discourages disillusionment and alienation, and instill in young people a sense of belonging and faith in the future."

Sec. 889A of the bill defines "violent radicalization" as "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system (to facilitate) ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change". “Homegrown terrorism” means "the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily with the (US) or any (US) possession to intimidate or coerce the (US) government, the civilian population....or any segment thereof (to further) political or social objectives."

Among the legislative findings in Sec. 899B of the bill is that “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the US by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to US citizens”. Sec. 899F of the legislation states “The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of US citizens or lawful permanent residents.” There are concerns that the legislation is an attempt at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts of American citizens, including those expressed on the Internet. See post entitled House Passes Thought Crimes Bill and No One Notices? at

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