Vigilance against terrorism vital in person, online

August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month and the Arizona National Guard is reminding its members to be aware and vigilant. As part of this observance, personnel at all levels should watch for suspicious activity and report it in support of our collective national security. To report suspicious activities contact your local law enforcement agency, security personnel at your installation, or the Arizona National Guard’s Joint Operation Center at 602-267-2583. (Image provided by army.mil)

Some security threats may have changed form, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the threats may seem less visible, it remains vital to be vigilant in real life and online for signs of potential terrorism.

August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month, and a reminder that “terrorism is an enduring, persistent threat to our nation and our Army both in the homeland and abroad,” said Bill Fedak, Fort Campbell’s installation antiterrorism officer.

While everyone must be vigilant year-round, the focus on antiterrorism in August is intended to further understanding of the threats and build heightened awareness for members of the Army community, Fedak said.

“Preventing terrorism or acts of violent extremism does not require special training,” he said.

“If you ‘See Something, Say Something’ means everyone is a sensor for law enforcement.”

Reporting suspicious activity or unusual behavior and activities could prevent attacks of various sorts. Complacency or delayed reporting of suspicious activities could give a culprit the opportunity to carry out acts that could endanger Army critical assets – from people to infrastructure and sensitive information.

COVID-19 presents new threats

The COVID-19 pandemic that led to so many people working remotely also opened avenues for those looking for new ways to carry out scams, obtain information and potentially disrupt work or safety precautions online.

“A first for many, teleworking was conducted by many Americans, including many in the military and other government personnel, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Fedak said. “This achieved social distancing intent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while attending to productivity requirements of industry and government. Unfortunately, this environment also introduced a host of possibilities for nefarious cyber actors to attempt phishing operations with the aim to gain access to private networks being used in many teleworking homes across the nation.”

He stressed the importance of maintaining the same vigilance when working from home as you would in your regular workplaces. That means not opening unknown URLs that pop up on screens, not opening emails from unknown parties and following security routines used when working online, regardless of location.

“The threat of terrorist attack and exploitation by violent extremists against our homeland and communities is real,” Fedak said. “Directed against our Army, whether successful or not, would demonstrate the conspirator’s ability to strike at the heart of our American values. The strength and efforts we direct toward security and awareness is the backbone of our prevention and protection, and reflects the strength of our nation as a whole.”

What to look for

Fedak said in addition to those who draw “twisted inspiration from foreign terrorist organization propaganda” there are violent domestic extremists who may be motivated by personal grievances or ideologies that they may keep hidden.

By watching for comments on social media that promote harm or violence against any individual or group, others can help law enforcement detect potential problems. Reporting posts that promote criminal, extreme or terrorist acts could be the key to stopping these acts from taking place.

“Historically, investigators have found that some people who were enamored with previous attackers’ manifestos and online ramblings made their affection known to others around them prior to carrying out their own attack,” Fedak said. “In these cases, indicators should have been reported to authorities. When in doubt, report it anyway. Go with your gut and be on the safe side.”

In an age of masks, it is still important to be on the lookout for people who seem out of place. Be on the lookout for unfamiliar people in secure areas or areas they should not be in, those asking security-related questions or loitering, he said.

Watch for unauthorized photography of military facilities, sensitive areas or access control points, notice unattended briefcases, suitcases, backpacks or packages and unattended vehicles left in parking lots, no-parking zones or in front of important buildings, Fedak said.

INFO BOX:

What to Do

Suspicious activity should be reported by dialing 911 or the following contacts:

•Fort Campbell Military Police Desk: 270-798-7111, 270-798-7112 or 270-798-7113.

•Oak Grove Police Department: 270-439-4602.

•Hopkinsville Police Department: 270-890-1500.

•Clarksville Police Department: 931-645-7480.

•Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office: 931-648-0611.

•Clarksville Regional FBI: 931-552-1018.

•For information about how to report suspicious activity, visit https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/report-suspicious-activity or https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/report-suspicious-activity

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