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Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Hammoud Facilitator Cell: Can the National Strategy Stop Similar Cells in Texas?

The Hammoud Facilitator Cell: Can the National Strategy Stop Similar Cells in Texas?

Homeland security is a different animal than national security. The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Asset defines homeland security as a shared responsibility which requires coordination between Federal, state, and local agencies, the private sector and individual citizens. In contrast, The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Asset defines national security in the context of those areas in which the Federal government has sole responsibility (2003, p vii).
The National Strategy for Homeland Security specifies two goals in the course of the strategy in dealing with terrorism
  • Identify and locate terrorists and uncover terrorist activity (2007, p.19)
  • Disrupt terrorists and their activities and networks (2007, p. 20)

The National Strategy for Homeland Security recognizes that terrorist organizations and their facilitators use “financial systems to raise, store, and transfer funds that serve as the lifeblood of their operations” (2007, p.21). The cigarette smuggling crime ring of the Hammoud brothers serves as an example of the type of terrorist cell that operates within the United States, providing financial support for Hezbollah. Levitt discusses the Hammoud case in the context of financing Hezbollah (2005, p.8).
One method of achieving these goals in accordance with the shared responsibility for homeland security is through the creation of fusion centers. In the 2014–2017 National Strategy for the National Network of Fusion Centers, the vision is defined as connecting the diversity of public safety organizations “in a way that creates a national information sharing asset” (2014, p. iv). However, Gottschalk warns that “More than half of the strategies devised by organizations are never actually implemented” (2009. p.274).
The State of Texas avoids Gottschalk's pitfall and contributes to this national strategy. In 2003, The State of Texas established the Homeland Security Council. One of the duties delegated to the Governor is specifically to “detect and deter threats to homeland security” (Texas Homeland Security Council Overview, n.d, pp. 1-2). Texas recognizes that Hezbollah and Hamas are terror organizations with a network of supporters within the state (Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan 2010-2015, n.d, p.21). In Texas's strategic plan, there is also the awareness of the financial support that facilitators can provide to terrorists, and the crimes committed in the course of those activities; “Terrorists use criminal activities to accrue money needed to pay for recruiting and training, and to buy
false documents, weapons, explosives, and munitions” (n.d., p. 23). As an example of the information sharing necessary to fulfill the obligation of homeland security, in 2006 the Texas Fusion Center became part of “a memorandum of understanding” between the states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to share intelligence regarding border security (Lee, Logan, Mitchell, and Trella, 2007, p. 55).
Clunan suggests that the fight against terrorist financing requires collective action between government agencies (2006, pp. 570-571). The United States and Texas have committed to this as a foundation of their homeland security strategies. Information sharing has proven to work in countering terrorist financing. The Hammoud case, which was opened before these strategies were formalized, serves as an example of how the process can succeed, and especially as an example of how local law enforcement is key in homeland security (Fromme & Schwein, 2007, p. 25).
Levitt's testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs regarding this should be read by everyone interested in or responsible for homeland security. The major concepts involve the the internal terror threat, the methods of terror finance, and how local agencies cooperated to counter these threats.


Clunan, A. L. (2006). The fight against terrorist financing. Political Science Quarterly (Academy of Political Science), 121(4), 569–596. Retrieved October 9, 2014 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=23680300&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Department of Homeland Security. (2007). National strategy for homeland security: Homeland Security Council. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=0iVf7NP4wz8C&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=%22make+sure+that+America+is+safer,+stronger,+and+better%22+%22end,+we+have+strengthened+our+homeland+security+through+foreign+partnerships,+and%22+%22our+Nation+is+safer,+but+we+are+not+yet+safe.+Since+September+11,+2001,+we+have+made%22+&ots=GnRBHMNVyi&sig=MDMhNrXEp4VHY_KC_HzgRqkiIfQ

Department of Homeland Security. (2003). The national strategy for the physical protection of critical infrastructures and key assets. Retrieved May 7, 2015 from http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA413033

Fromme, R., & Schwein, R. (2007). Operation Smokescreen: A successful interagency collaboration. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 76(12), 20–25. Retrieved April 30, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/215270968?pq-origsite=summon

Gottschalk, P. (2009). Law enforcement strategy implementation: The case of police intelligence strategy. Criminal Justice Studies, 22(3), 273–280. http://doi.org/10.1080/14786010903166981

Lee, E., Logan, C., Mitchell, J. T., and Trella, J. (2007). A governor’s guide to homeland security. Washington, D.C.: National Governors’ Association, Center for Best Practices. Retrieved 9/22/14 from http://www.nga.org/Files/pdf/0703GOVGUIDEHS.PDF

Levitt, M. (2005). Hezbollah: Financing terror through criminal enterprise. Testimony given to Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Washington, DC, 25. Retrieved April 13, 2015 from http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/testimony/313.pdf

National Network of Fusion Centers. (2014). 2014–2017 National strategy for the national network of fusion centers. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from https://nfcausa.org/html/National%20Strategy%20for%20the%20National%20Network%20of%20Fusion%20Centers.pdf

Office of the Governor. (n.d.). Texas homeland security strategic plan 2010-2015. Retrieved May 7, 2015 from http://gov.texas.gov/files/homeland/HmLndSecurity_StratPlan2015.pdf

Texas Homeland Security Council. (n.d.). Texas homeland security council overview. Retrieved May 7, 2015 from http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/documents/HomelandSecurityCouncilOverview.pdf

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