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Emerging and Innovative National Security Efforts

Narco-terrorism is a growing area of concern in our counterterrorism efforts, as terrorists exploit drug cartels to provide funding, weapons, and other support for their terrorist activities. Global terrorists also have a substantial and growing presence on the Internet, where one can find radical anti-U.S. propaganda, tutorials on bomb-making, and elaborate religious justifications for the most despicable acts of violence against defenseless civilians. The Internet permits isolated actors to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack. Thus, terrorists continue to use the Internet to solicit funds and for recruitment, radicalization, training, and operational planning.

This remains a significant and growing area of concern for our counterterrorism efforts, as we seek effective means of enforcement, while protecting our cherished First Amendment freedoms. For example, the bomb-making statute (18 U.S.C. § 842(p) – distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction), is one tool for attacking prohibited conduct that terrorists seek to cloak in the garb of protected free speech. This statute forbids teaching or demonstrating the making or use of an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction, or the distribution of information concerning the manufacture of such devices, with the intent that the teaching, demonstration or information be used in furtherance of a federal crime of violence, or with the knowledge that the recipient of the teaching or demonstration intends to use the knowledge imparted in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.

The Internet is part of our critical infrastructure and attacks on that infrastructure and attempts to exploit weakness in that and similar infrastructures remains a significant emerging threat to national security that the U.S. Attorneys’ offices and NSD continue to address.

The U.S. Attorneys’ offices use all available lawful resources, including rarely used but applicable federal criminal statutes, to address emerging threats. For example, U.S. citizen Adam Gadahn was charged with treason, a statute not used by the Department of Justice since the World War II era. Gadahn, also known as “Azzam Al Amriki,” was indicted on charges of treason and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization for making a series of propaganda videotapes for al Qaeda. Gadahn is believed to be overseas and is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted List of Terrorists.

Updated December 8, 2014