Comparing Homeland Security Research Products
Analysis: NYPD Radicalization Report-Executive Summary
The major goal of the research was to examine the al-Qaeda-inspired threat at the point where radicalization begins and to understand the specifics of the process of radicalization in order to prevent future attacks (Silber & Bhatt, 2007). Silber and Bhatt were eager to identify that moment where the potential terrorist appears, and analyze the progress of his radicalization.
As for the sources reviewed in support of the research, analysts examined five foreign case studies and five American cases. In these case studies, a number of police reports, media, and scholar articles connected with radical activists were analyzed and discussed.
The main method was a comparative case study of “five prominent homegrown groups/plots around the world,” which led to terrorist attacks (Silber & Bhatt, 2007). Later, they tested whether the developed conception was practical for the USA and analyzed five local cases.
Finally, their radicalization framework was applied to the Hamburg cluster of individuals involved in the hijacking. This method is qualitative, as far as it includes theoretical background and a detailed study of cases that belong to the particular category (Brians, Willnat, Manheim, & Rich, 2011).
Silber and Bhatt used existing materials on each case to get the most detailed picture of the events. They used expert interviews, reports on the cases, and “the NYPD used their detectives and analysts to meet with law enforcement, intelligence officials and academics” at the locations of each case (Silber & Bhatt, 2007).
The report conclusions were supported by the detailed description of the research, illustrations, and presentations of every case, including participants and their backgrounds. All of the findings were based on observations made throughout the research.
Analysis: DHS Right-wing Extremism report
The Department of Homeland Security evaluated the impact of the political and economic factors on the rise of rightwing extremist activity and analyzed the possibility of its future growth. Those factors included massive “interest in legislation for tighter firearms restrictions and returning military veterans,” as well as a growing fear of foreign threats and unstable economy (The Department of Homeland Security [DHS], 2009).
The research was based only on observations of certain factors that could influence rightwing activists, and separate cases connected with each of those factors. The DHS report does not illustrate detailed data or results of a specific survey.
A series of historical facts, events, and examples of studies were used as the key points for the report. This method of collecting information can be referred to as the qualitative method, as no numbers or exact sources of information were provided, and the report fully relies on the description of factors related to the rightwing extremist activity.
The DHS report is based on the observations made by the Department since the 1990s until 2009. A number of studies and historic cases were used to support the research with chronology. For instance, the data concerning arrests of militia members in 2007 was provided to illustrate the anxiety of rightwing extremists over the number of illegal immigrants (DHS, 2009).
The report’s key findings were supported by the observations made in a certain period of time and the depictive presentation of different groups of motives that were driving rightwing radicalization. However, the data presented is not detailed or supported with exact numbers, and reminds the description of trends rather than comprehensive research.
Comparison of the Reports
The report made by the New York Police Department seems to be more justified and research-based. Its analysis can be evaluated as professional, detailed, and well-organized.
On the contrary, the main claim of the Department of Homeland Security report is supported by the vague description of trends. Although the presentation of every factor from their research is visually structured and accompanied by some facts and cases, the main part of the report is based on judgments and assessments of DHS.
As for the methods used for the research, the NYPD report is based on a clear qualitative case study analysis, which looks more solid than the methodology used by the DHS. First of all, the methodology is finely described at the beginning of the report. Second, every step of the research is depicted and provided with visual details, expert interviews, and other credible data.
Finally, the case study method is perfectly presented in the report by Silber and Bhatt, as they used the same approach to every case (for example, the description of the environment and the candidates). Hence, they managed to define a certain framework for understanding the process of radicalization. Unlike them, the Department of Homeland Security used an uncertain methodology and scheme of the research.
It is hard to define obvious weaknesses in the report by the New York Police Department. The visual representation of some findings and the logic foundation of every factor, based on the evidence, makes this report valid. As for the disadvantages of the second report, the one made by the DHS, the list will be much longer.
It should be considered that the information given in the report used to be classified and was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch and represents more an assessment of the current situation than comprehensive research. However, in the scope, it is stated that this product is aimed at getting “a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States” (DHS, 2009).
Such a claim demands a clear structure, but the report looks like an essay with randomly organized paragraphs. Moreover, it lacks facts and credible data. It gives only separate examples, supporting the trends revealed by the DHS. Some evidence would significantly improve this assessment.
Both reports could have been improved if the qualitative methods of research were combined with the quantitative ones. Big data can reveal unexpected trends, and it would be particularly effective for the DHS report, as it would explain all the conclusions.
Well-organized graphs and charts with numbers would provide it with lacking evidence. Besides, even though the NYPD report is based on solid research, it would also benefit from statistics represented in visuals. Precise numbers can help with proving any theory, and putting them in a diagram as the support after every case would improve the process of the step-by-step analysis.
I am convinced that the analysis, demonstrated in the report of the New York Police Department, is fully authoritative and reliable. I believe that a case study method can effectively solve many issues and find answers to many controversial questions, but it all depends on organization and structure. In this case, I can clearly observe the methodology and the train of thought of the authors.
Thus, their analysis seems strong and professional to me. On the other hand, I would like to express my disagreement with the analysis in the DHS report. Every real research is supposed to be based on reliable figures, with clear sources and order. Nevertheless, this report is missing proof and a distinct composition.
Brians, C. L., Willnat, L., Manheim, J., & Rich, R. (2011). Empirical political analysis: Quantitative and qualitative research methods (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Department of Homeland Security. (2009). Rightwing extremism: Current economic and political climate fueling resurgence in radicalization and recruitment.
Silber, M. D., & Bhatt, A. (2007). Radicalization in the West: The homegrown threat. New York, NY: New York Police Department.
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