By Stephanie Ingersoll, Fort Campbell CourierAugust 28, 2019
Being vigilant and reporting suspicious activity can thwart a terrorist plot, mass shooting and other violence.
"We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts," according to the Department of Homeland Security's July Terrorist Summary.
Although vigilance is vital year-round to protect people and resources from terrorist activity, 10 years ago the Army designated August Antiterrorism Awareness Month as a call to action in concert with the DHS "See Something, Say Something" initiative.
"The 'See Something, Say Something' program was developed by DHS to promote public awareness and is rooted in the idea that citizens are key in identifying suspicious activity," said Bill Fedak, Fort Campbell installation antiterrorism officer.
Citzens who know the indicators of terroristic activity can serve as "sensors and as an extension of law enforcement," Fedak said. "Being aware of your surroundings and being able to spot something that is not right is part of vigilance."
Being vigilant, gathering suspicious activity information when something is amiss and reporting it to the proper authorities may provide law enforcement with the missing piece of the puzzle that could potentially thwart a terror plot, he said.
"As international terrorist methods and propaganda continue to be adopted and used by threat actors, such as domestic-based violent extremists, threats of this kind in the U.S. will keep evolving," Fedak said. "Suspicious activity reporting at the community level, here at Fort Campbell, and elsewhere will continue to shape a positive outlook for the near term and beyond. Communities, teamed with law enforcement, are the key to guaranteeing a safe and secure future."
By looking for things that do not belong, such as vehicles left in no parking zones near important buildings, loiterers who act oddly, and unattended briefcases or bags, citizens can provide helpful information that might prevent an attack, he said.
Other behaviors that could indicate a threat are someone declaring he or she plans to commit a violent act or hinting that "something" is going to happen; a new or increased advocacy for violence and recruiting others to help; adoption of new lifestyles or separating from normal peer and family groups in favor of advocating terrorist activities; new or increased interest in websites or reading materials that advocate violence; travel or interest in traveling overseas to visit extremist institutions or paramilitary training and stockpiling weapons or explosives, Fedak said.
"Becoming aware of someone's ill intent via online social media use is becoming more and more prevalent, which must be reported," he said. "Third parties are usually able to witness threat activities or behaviors that, if reported, could trigger early intervention and prevent a future incident from occurring."
Antiterrorism Awareness Month promotes awareness among the Army Family and is rooted in the idea that citizens are key to identifying suspicious activity and reporting it to law enforcement quickly.
"Time is valuable and, if lost, law enforcement personnel may lose the immediacy in being able to investigate to deter or to respond," Fedak said.
Soldiers, Families and civilians should focus on reporting the who, what, where, when and why -- if known -- to law enforcement, along with their contact information.
"If you feel that the matter is critical and a time-sensitive emergency, state that in your call," Fedak said. "All this will help officials in determining what actions need to take place next."
For emergency situations, call 911. Military Police can be reached at 270-798-7111 for non-emergencies. Reports can also be made by calling the Fort Campbell Counter Intelligence Office at 931-251-0047.