Domestic Terrorism on the Rise: Why Citizen Vigilance Matters More Than Ever

Robert Morton
4 min readApr 13, 2024
Is Another Oklahoma City Bombing In The Making? Citizen Vigilance Can Save Lives in the Fight Against Domestic Terrorism

Incidents of domestic terrorism have surged by 357% in recent years, presenting a significant threat to Americans. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are tasked with collaborating to prevent such threats. While they work together, there’s a need to update agreements to better tackle the evolving threat.

Domestic terrorism, as defined by U.S. law, involves criminal acts intended to coerce civilians or influence government conduct. The FBI and DHS track cases and incidents, respectively, related to domestic terrorism. From 2013 to 2021, FBI cases grew by 357%, highlighting the escalating threat.

In 2015, authorities foiled a planned attack on a community college in Phoenix, Arizona. Mahin Khan, an 18-year-old high school student, was arrested after an investigation by the FBI revealed his plans to carry out a mass shooting and bombing at the college campus.

Khan had expressed support for ISIS and had communicated with an undercover FBI agent, expressing his desire to obtain weapons and carry out the attack. He was arrested before he could carry out his plans, and in 2017, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison after pleading guilty to terrorism charges. This incident highlights the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts in preventing domestic terrorist attacks through proactive investigation and intervention.

The Khan incident led to the ramping up of collaboration between various channels, including ‘Fusion Centers’ and task forces, the FBI and DHS. Their aim is to identify and counter domestic terrorism threats. I wrote an article over a decade ago about ‘Fusion Centers’ and how valuable they can be to protect Americans: Spying Fusion Centers Protect Americans.

Several factors contribute to the rising threat, including lone offenders who radicalize online and the extensive presence of domestic violent extremists on the internet. The insular nature of these extremists makes them challenging to identify, emphasizing the importance of public vigilance.

To protect themselves and report suspicious activity, citizens should remain aware of their surroundings, refrain from oversharing personal information, and report any concerning behavior to law enforcement or via available resources like the Nationwide SAR Initiative (NSI) and the FBI’s website:

Following a disturbing incident in 2018, where a vigilant citizen in Florida reported concerning behavior from a former classmate, Nikolas Cruz, to the FBI, the agency now promptly responds to all citizens who report suspicious activity related to domestic terrorism. Cruz, who had been expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, was posting disturbing content on social media, raising red flags for the citizen who took action.

Recognizing the potential threat, the citizen contacted the FBI to report Cruz’s behavior, including his violent posts and statements expressing a desire to become a “professional school shooter.”

The FBI received the tip but failed to follow up appropriately, leading to criticism of the agency’s handling of the information. Unfortunately, this failure to act allowed Cruz to carry out a horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, where he killed 17 people and injured many others.

While this incident highlights a failure in the response to a reported threat, it underscores the critical role that citizen reporting plays in preventing terrorist attacks. Had the FBI acted on the tip and investigated Cruz’s behavior more thoroughly, it’s possible that the tragic shooting could have been prevented. The FBI has learned its lesson: you report; they respond immediately!

In the ongoing battle against domestic terrorism, the FBI stands as a stalwart defender of national security. With their proactive investigations and swift interventions, they have thwarted numerous plots and apprehended those seeking to sow chaos and destruction. While the precise tally of prevented attacks may vary, the undeniable truth remains: the FBI’s efforts have saved countless lives and bolstered the safety of our nation.

Yet, in this ever-evolving landscape of threats, the importance of citizen vigilance cannot be underestimated. The mantra “If you see something, say something” rings louder than ever, reminding us of our collective responsibility to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. By working hand in hand with agencies like the FBI, citizens play a crucial role in safeguarding our communities and ensuring the safety and security of all Americans.

As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, let us not forget the power we hold as individuals to make a difference. Together, with unwavering resolve and a commitment to vigilance, we can continue to stand united against the forces of terror and protect the values we hold dear.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online Spy series “Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster.” Check out his latest spy thriller, Mission of Vengeance.



Robert Morton

Spy thriller author, member of Association of Former Intelligence Officers, thrilling experiences await on my Author Site: