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America's Terrorist Gateway

The United States of America is faced with an ever growing threat to its national security... Domestic Terrorism. One often thinks of individuals related to Domestic Terrorists as Timothy McVeigh or Bruce Edward Ivins, the individual suspected of the Anthrax attacks in 2001. However, American gangs are emerging as a solemn threat to national security.

Jeff Fort is the leader of the Black P. Stone Nation, a Chicago based gang. In the early 1960s the Black P. Stone Nation gang started, like most American gangs, encompassing young juveniles who quested for respect, power and money. As the craving for respect, power, and money grew, the Black P. Stone Nation merged with other neighborhood gangs, thus expanding its influence over Chicago's Southside. This emerging gang then did the improbable; in the mid 1980s it collaborated with Libya's Moammar Gadhafi to conduct terrorist acts on American soil. Although this plan was thwarted by law enforcement officers, the vision, the plan and the ability to execute it were indisputable.

Fast forwarding time to May 2002, Jose Padilla, known as the dirty bomber, was arrested in Chicago by federal authorities. He was deemed an enemy combatant. The allegation was that he was planning to launch a dirty bomb on American soil. He was also linked as an associate to al-Qaeda, more specifically Osama Bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda's senior most terrorist. Padilla grew up in Chicago, Illinois and was a member of the Maniac Latin Disciples. During his gang membership, Padilla was imprisoned several times for various crimes including manslaughter. It was in prison that Padilla converted to Islam. This New York born individual transformed from gang member to an international terrorist with focus on imposing death to Americans.

These two are just some examples of how American gang members evolve into international terrorists. Experts agree that terrorist organizations and gangs offer similar recruitment motivators. They recruit individuals who desire acceptance into society. This need for acceptance stems from many reasons, all of which provide for ideal recruitment practices for gangs or terrorist organizations. Correctional institutions are inundated with such individuals. Once inside a penal institution, individuals seek protection, social acceptance and respect from others, thus entering the gateway to gang recruitment. Gangs, like any criminal element, exploit good practices and thrive on manipulation. American citizens enjoy the ability to have freedom of religion. Incarcerated gang members manipulate this freedom by holding meetings to propagate the gang's agenda. Gang members will minimally educate themselves in the Islamic religion and utilize religion as a cloak in the form of prayer meetings. This allows gangs to further their agenda, while being protected under Constitutional law.

Prompt acknowledgement of gang trends is imperative in securing our nation's welfare. Law enforcement in collaboration with communities has the opportunity to drastically minimize the merger of gangs and terrorists. Gangs' revenue is often gained from a variety of avenues. The selling of drugs, weapons, and prostitution are just some of the typical vessels that allow gang funding. Although removing these offenses from American communities is a great ideology, it is not a realistic approach. However, law enforcement does have the ability to link associate criminal patterns to certain organizations. Once these organizations are identified, appropriate resources can be deployed to dismantle them. The burden of dismantling these criminal organizations does not rest on law enforcement alone. One of the greatest challenges to identifying gang issues is the prompt recognition and reporting of gang crime. This reporting serves as the catalyst for the desired outcome, dismantling gangs and halting the gateway to national terror.