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Terrorist Threats and Need for a Public Safety Accountability Act

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In challenging the destruction of terrorist threats on society, we not only need accountability for defying extremist ideologies that inspire terrorists and those who commit and assist in terrorist acts, but we also need accountability on those who have information on terrorist threats to public safety, but choose to withhold that information or fail to act on it to defend the public. In the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and other nations of the world, we need a clear, unambiguous law which defines such public safety accountability, with concrete, criminal, consequences for those that withhold information or those with such information that fail to act to protect the public.

As we witness continuing terrorist acts around the world, the most horrible truth is that too many know about terrorist threats to the public, but maliciously choose to do nothing to protect the public. The silence prior to such terrorist attacks on an unsuspecting society needs to stop. We need more than friendly slogans, “see something, say something,” to inspire confidence in public to play in active role in providing information on terrorist threats. We need to migrate from the casual volunteerism of “see something, say something” to a more severe “see something, say something, because it’s the law.”

Our legal systems must accommodate a new law that mandates accountability for those who know, but maliciously conceal such information, and those who know, but consciously fail to act on such information. Certainly, failure to provide information and failing to act on terrorist threats to the public is one of the most gross violations of “obstruction of justice” that we could imagine. Yet such “obstruction of justice” when it comes to information and action on terrorist threats happens on a regular basis, every single day, and even worse, it has too often been defended as part of public government policy.

People of conscience, and those committed to our universal human rights (which includes human security), must find the continuing malicious silence and inaction on terrorist threats as completely unacceptable. We must have a public safety accountability act to set expectations of a legal responsibility to provide information on terrorist threats, and to also expect accountability of our government to act on such threats. The public is threatened by sociopath terrorists which have no respect for law, and no concern about death, even their own. The idea that we can continue to allow such anti-life figures to kill and injure with impunity, while we have no accountability for those who could have stopped such acts, is the absolute height of social lack of responsibility and contempt for human rights.

The public safety of our citizens, our children, our families, our neighbors, our communities also should not be an afterthought to government authorities more concerned about intelligence spy-games than the real and present danger that such terrorist actors pose to public safety and lives. They have no right to play chess with the lives of our families, our children, and our communities. A cohesive, competent, and just society must demand accountability and consequences for malicious, Machiavellian, manipulations by those who have lost sight that our society is composed of other living, breathing human beings with dreams and purpose of their own.

In the United Kingdom today, we see children and families who have suffered yet another terrorist loss from a terrorist bombing atrocity this week. Civilized societies must not just ask, but must demand that the public provide information known to it regarding terrorist threats. It is also yet another discouraging case, where we learn that “intelligence” agencies knew about this terrorist mass-murderer of children, who apparently traveled to Libya to gain training, but he was never arrested for his involvement with Libyan extremists. Less than a year ago, Washington D.C. had a similar case of a Libya-trained ISIS terrorist supporter walking the street, but working as a police officer with the Washington subway system that hundreds of thousands regularly use, while this was known to the FBI. Our society must expect more from our fellow citizens, and those who work on our behalf in our governments.

As described in January 2017, R.E.A.L. has also proposed protective acts for human rights safety from those who have been engaged in terrorist planning, with a specific recommendation for a “Terrorism Prevention and Public Protection Act.” But our legal system must recognize that terrorist plots and terrorist training constitute criminal behavior. Our law enforcement should not have to wait until our children and public are murdered in the street by such sociopath terrorist actors, any more than we would wait for an arsonist plotting to burn down a building, must actually burn our public to death, before he is arrested. In view of the continuing global terrorist threats, our legal system must adopt some common sense respect for the public’s human rights, security, and dignity, to allow our society to continue to have cohesion and respect for the law, our authorities, and one another.

The inhuman cruelty and total disregard for life and public safety by 21st century terrorist actors cannot be fought only by a legal system designed for a 19th and 20th century world and criminal activity. We must recognize that modern, rapid terrorist threats demand that our legal system must move beyond passive non-consequentialism, which has been accepted by too many who shield those who enable harm by their malicious non-actions. The massive threat to public safety by the 21st century global terrorist movement networks is unlike previous criminal organizations and campaigns. We cannot continue to ignore wrongful conduct in our 21st century by malicious failure to act in providing information or failing to act, regarding terrorist threats to our public society.

This must require a new public act which imposes a pre-existing legal duty to act to the public to provide information, and to the government to act, on issues of public safety due to modern terrorist threats. Continuing to allow such duties to be “optional” ignores the very real and present, not hypothetical, instances of how such non-action enables harm. Those who choose to conceal information regarding terrorist threats and those in authority who choose not to act on information regarding terrorist threats must face more than social condemnation; they must face legal responsibility for their choices, as malicious and public endangerment.

The “rationale” for such malicious public endangerment by those empowering terrorists to act with impunity, by choosing to conceal such information regarding threats because to reveal this would make someone uncomfortable, inconvenient, or in the case of government agents, that such public endangerment was to help achieve additional “intelligence” or further investigations, must face real and concrete legal consequences, for such public endangerment to society.

The behavior of those who maliciously refuse to provide information on terrorist threats and those in authority who refuse to act to protect the public from terrorist threats, must be seen as engaging in malicious behavior against society, regardless of their rationale or justification. This is not to suggest that every person’s information about but genuine failure to understand information regarding a terrorist threat is malicious. Certainly, everyone learns small pieces of information that they do not recognize or maliciously conceal. A public accountability act would NOT call for criminal prosecution for random knowledge unknown by the public to impact a terrorist threat to society.

But let us be clear, unintentional concealment of information on terrorist threats is not the real problem that is facing our society regarding modern terrorism today. The terrorist actors who commit atrocities on our children, our families, our public, are regularly not criminal masterminds and agents. Most modern terrorists leave a trail, a definable trail, with very clear information seen by too many in the public, and incredibly, by unscrupulous individuals in our government agencies responsible for our protection. Too often, we see terrorist actors who are “known” to “intelligence” agencies. If they are that obvious, the public rightfully should ask why isn’t anyone who knew about such terrorists’ actions held accountable? In our modern society, they must be held accountable, which has become all too rare. In the United States, unless some other crime is committed, most of those who concealed or failed to act on knowledge of a terrorist threat, face no consequences for their malicious behavior against society.

In the 2011 “The Moral Status of Enabling Harm,” regarding the assessment of enabling harm, University of California Professor Samuel C. Rickless states that “the agent whose actions enable the victim’s death is described as the victim’s enemy. Persons who are described as enemies of those whose death they bring about intentionally are generally understood to be acting with malicious intent.” Professor Rickless further states that “[o]ur intuitions therefore count as evidence for the claim that malicious harmful enabling is morally equivalent to harmful doing, but they do not suggest that non-malicious harmful enabling is morally equivalent to harmful doing.” When facing the modern global threat of rapid terrorist violence to our public, we cannot ignore the necessity to codify and provide concrete consequences for those whose malicious behavior against public safety includes concealing information on terrorist threats or failing to act on terrorist threats.

Reckless disregard for public safety regarding terrorist threats to our public must be condemned by those that maliciously conceal information and by those that deliberately fail to act on such information. This recklessness costs lives, over and over again.

As we demand more from the public in making it their responsibility not to conceal information on terrorist acts, so we must also make it our government agencies’ responsibility to act on information regarding terrorist threats to protect the public. We must not allow protected, comfortable offices and conference rooms, to shield senior representatives of government from public outrage and the consequences of deliberately failing to act to protect the public. They must set an example for every one of our citizens. If they refuse that responsibility, they must be as accountable as any other citizen.

In the United States alone, the last three terrorist attacks were all by individuals “known” to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence. In each of these cases, members of the public came, despite endangerment to themselves, and warned the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about these terrorists. The excuses on the failure to act to protect the public sound hollow, when the innocent public lie dead and injured in the street. If there was this much “known” that the FBI was actually informed about these individuals, what else was known that was concealed by others? And why do we have no consequences for the failure to protect the public from terrorists?

Orlando ISIS terrorist Omar Mateen was “known” to the FBI and U.S. authorities. Omar Mateen committed the June 12, 2016 terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 Americans.

New York terrorist Ahmad Khan Rahami was “known” to the FBI and U.S. authorities, even his own father contacted the FBI about the threat he represented. Ahmad Khan Rahami committed terrorist attacks in September 19 and 20, 2016 in New York and New Jersey, injuring 29 Americans.

Fort Lauderdale terrorist Esteban Santiago-Ruiz actually went and told the FBI office in November 2016, that he had been watching ISIS terrorist videos and was being driven to attack and kill the public for ISIS. He was let go. On January 6, 2017, Esteban Santiago-Ruiz killed 5 and injured 6 in a terrorist mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and an additional 36 were injured.

How can our authorities retain the confidence of our public to face the rapid, global terrorist network, if it fails to act to protect our public society from such known threats?

The most astounding story in 2016 in terms of terrorist threats was about the terrorist attack that did not happen, is about a known ISIS terrorist threat in Washington D.C., whose actions could have endangered the lives of many, many thousands of innocents. On August 2, 2016, the Washington D.C. news media announced the arrest of Nicholas Young, a Metro Police Department (MPD) police officer with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) subway system for providing material support to the ISIS terrorist movement. But there was no concern about the public’s safety to remove him from the MPD.

In the criminal complaint on ISIS support Nicholas Young, filed in court before federal Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan, with sworn testimony by an FBI Special Agent David Martinez, it is documented that ISIS terrorist movement supporter and MPD police officer Nicholas Young had been under investigation since 2010. It is documented that Young had an AK-47 out of his window looking to shoot law enforcement in 2011. It is documented in 2011 that Young threatened to behead anyone who “betrayed” him and was looking to blow up automobiles. It is documented in 2011 that Young sought to attack the FBI and smuggle guns into a courtroom. It is documented in 2011 that Young sought to kidnap and torture an FBI special agent. It is documented in 2011 that Young traveled with terrorists (aka “rebels”) to Libya with arms, body armor, to overthrow the government there. (Of note, it is also documented that our DHS Customs and Borders Protection waved Nicholas Young with his military items right on through to Libya on the outbound trip.) In 2011, it is documented that Young had been meeting with a terrorist Amine El Khalifi, and warned him how to avoid the police; Amine El Khalifi planned a January 2012 suicide bomb attack on the U.S. Capitol building, and was arrested. In 2012, it is documented that Young sought to get revenge on those who warned the authorities about the U.S. Capitol suicide bomb plot. Throughout 2014, it is documented that Young repeatedly made plans to seek to join the ISIS terrorist movement, not just as a supporter, but to join their terror activities overseas. In 2015, it is documented how Young praised terrorist attacks in France by ISIS. Not long after his messages of support for ISIS terror attacks, it is documented that Young took his AK-47 to join other MPD police officers to “train” in shooting. In November 2015, it is documented how Young praised the Paris terrorist attacks by ISIS and how the West deserved such death and violence. It was not until 2016, when Young purchased gift cards to send to ISIS to help provide financial support, that eventually by August of 2016 that Young was arrested.

During all of this time, as the FBI knew about this, and Young remained as MPD police officer, endangering the safety of untold thousands on the WMATA Metro subway. Young told his fellow ISIS terrorist supporters by 2016 that “I have enough flags on my name that I can’t even buy a plane ticket without little alert ending up in someone’s hands,” but Young could remain on the WMATA MPD as a police officer, in a system with an average daily ridership with hundreds of thousands of riders. At the time of Young’s arrest, an anonymous “source” told ABC News, there was “no pending threat to the D.C. transportation system,” but how do we know this? How could someone in authority consider it anything less than a wildly irresponsible, malicious abrogation of public safety responsibility to allow an ISIS terrorist supporter (with terror training in Libya) to continue as a police officer for a major subway mass transit system?

After reading this, you might ask yourself, what exactly does it take to get arrested? Judge Buchanan never asked, why did it take you six years to arrest this terrorist figure. After a few local stories, the Washington D.C. media shrugged, and it was back to “business as usual.”

But a legal system that allows the malicious endangerment of the public from global terrorist actors must not be considered acceptable.

The public deserves protection from such sociopath terrorist figures, who not only have no respect for law, but have no fear of death itself. For full disclosure, R.E.A.L. respects our legal system, our law enforcement, and certainly our FBI, which it has directly aided for many years. But we need consistency and credibility in dealing with information regarding terrorist threats to the public.

We need to hold our public accountable for coming forward about terrorist threats to society, and we need to hold our government accountable to making arrests to protect the public from such terrorist atrocities. Anything less makes a true mockery of our legal system and our shared commitment to universal human rights.