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Senators Push for Passage of the Violent Radicalization Bill

May 12, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

One of the most controversial bills to have seen action so far in this sessions on Congress is getting a renewed push towards becoming law from its main proponents in the Senate. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed the House in October, was thought to be dead in the Senate after a public outpouring of opposition. The bill would enhance research efforts to combat “homegrown terrorism,” “radicalization” and “ideologically-based violence,” terms defined so loosely that many fear the bill could label almost anyone a terrorist.

Suddenly Senators Susan Collins (the bill’s sponsor in the Senate) and Joe Lieberman (pictured at right) have ramped up their case for the bill to be passed into law:

>Using a video montage [viewable below] showing mass executions, bomb-making, and a promise to “slit the throats of Americans and Jews,” two U.S. lawmakers unveiled a report that says homegrown violent Islamic extremism poses an increasing threat to the safety of the American people.
>The bipartisan report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was unveiled by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) at a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday.
>Lieberman and Collins told reporters that al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups are using the Internet to recruit and train extremists in the United States.
>Lieberman defined “homegrown” terrorists as American citizens or long-term residents. “The sophisticated use of the Internet by international terrorist organizations and their followers is increasingly a cause of this homegrown terrorism,” he said.
>The Internet, the report says, gives disaffected people who have access to a computer a way “to identify and connect with networks throughout the world … and gain expertise that previously was available only in overseas training camps.”
>"What makes it so troubling is we don’t know how many people are being radicalized," Collins said, “because it’s very difficult to track.”
>The report calls for better coordination to meet the growing threat.
>"We need a well-coordinated national plan to counter terrorists’ use of the Internet and to isolate and discredit their violent ideology and, of course, the means to stop them before they carry out their violent, hate-filled acts against this country and its citizens," Lieberman said.

Here’s the video:

And here are the definitions in the bill that have people concerned:

  • (1) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term “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 within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
  • (2) RADICALIZATION- The term “radicalization” means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically-based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
  • (3) IDEOLOGICALLY-BASED VIOLENCE- The term “ideologically-based violence” means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.

    Collins and Lieberman seem to be focusing in on the internet as a tool for homegrown terrorism. The bill specifically mentions the internet in its “findings” section, raising concerns from some that the government may partake in overzealous censoring of Web content. Here’s the section of the bill that addresses the issue:

>The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

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