Friday, February 17, 2012

Domestic Terrorism: Did we forget?

On April, 19th 1995 a yellow Ryder rental truck pulled up in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. A lone man calmly walked away from the truck and down the street. Within minutes the truck, which contained a several thousand pound bomb made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, exploded. The bomb created a 3.1 scale earthquake, killed over one hundred people, and injured over six-hundred others.
The lone man who walked away from the truck that morning was not an Islamic terrorist nor was he a foreign national. The perpetrator was Timothy McVeigh an American citizen, and decorated Gulf War Veteran.

With conservative commentators using words like “socialism” and “fascism” to describe the federal government, does the media have a role in promoting domestic extremism? McVeigh, for example, thought that the government was coming for people’s guns and felt like he was a prisoner in his own country. People like Glenn Beck have accused President Obama as being part of some conspiracy to usher in a totalitarian America.

Now, a Michigan militia group is being put on trial for amassing guns and bombs in what federal prosecutors allege was a plot to fight a war against the government and kill police officers. Is such a group influenced by the damaging rhetoric of today's political climate? More than likely, yes.

If we are really concerned about preventing the next terrorist attack, we cannot ignore the fact that the next attack may come from American extremists rather than any other variety. As future criminal justice professionals, we must broaden our focus to all groups, including Americans, when protecting homeland security.


The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist. MSNBC Films. 2010.

Michel, L., & Herbeck, D. (2001). American terrorist : Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City bombing / Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck. New York : Regan Books, c2001.


  1. This post really gives light to the dangers in our own back yard. I think for many years previously Americans associate terrorist with people of other races and ethnicities. After 911 especially Americans got a terrible wake up call that terrorism is a large issue. Also, that there are extremist out there who want to cause harm to large populations. We really need to realize that there are also American citizens who also have these extremist beliefs. What happened in Oklahoma City was a tragedy and could have been avoided if Americans realized terrorism could also happen locally by our fellow citizens.

  2. Good idea Ethan. I will definetly agree with you: America and it’s citizen need to be more open to the idea that terrorism can come in the most common form. I feel as though some people are too narrowly determined that a terrorist is of mideastern descent. This is the first I had heard of the Michigan Militia; very interesting situation. I absolutely agree with you regarding the extremist generally acting on political views and the Michigan Militia is a perfect example of it. I think the prosecution for these individuals should be prosecuted harshly and firmly for their intent as well as their comments. I do not believe that there excuse of “harmless venting” will fair very well for them. Good issue to look at though.

  3. I definitely liked the last line of your article. It is very important for all of us to understand that anyone is capable of committing crimes this early in our careers. Broadening our narrow-mindedness can only help us do our jobs better and keep society safer.

  4. This post really takes into consideration the seriousness that the next terrorist attach could involve someone from our own country. I feel that most people like to think that there is no way one individual or a group of people could possibly do something so terrifying to citizens in their own country but it is a very real possibility and I think it is something that our nation should not take so lightly. Terrorism is no longer something just associated with people from different countries there are now citizens in our own nation plotting agains the U.S. I believe that our country should have a set of plans in place to prevent harm agains our citizens from both foreign and domestic terrorism.

  5. Really interesting. It makes me wonder what else is going on in our backyard when everyone is still focused internationally. I forgot about the Hutaree, but I honestly believe they deserve a conviction, but besides the weaponry, they were not doing anything too crazy. But they still "amassed" all these firearms and military grade equipment, which goes to show they were planning/wanting something to happen...
    I also like where you pointed our attention with this article, because many American people have focused their attention internationally, but failed to recognize the problems at home. These extremist groups make me wonder if our type of policing will evolve to a more hostile-emergency style because after all the types of attacks have changed, and we never know who's actually in our backyard.

  6. I feel as a preventative measure, homeland security and emergency management should become better developed. Since emergency management is a relatively new field, a lot of counties, universities, states, etc. do not have an emergency management team that is properly staffed. Many places are not up to date on the latest techniques/training. With domestic terrorism being an obvious and present threat, I feel it is important to increase the amount of knowledge of government officials, fire departments, police departments, etc. about emergency management. By being better prepared, hopefully it might deter some domestic terrorists from acting out their plans. I also think it is important that more people become aware of the threat of domestic terrorists so they can be on the lookout and perhaps have a better idea of what to look for, or what indicators there may be that someone is involved.