FAU Wk 5 Growing Threat of Agroterrorism & Strategies for Agricultural Defense Responses


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Below I have 5 posts please provide a response to each.  

Post 1

Do you think HSINT did a good job or not during the Covid-19 pandemic? Explain. Remember that your answer is for bonus points in case you do not earn full points in the posting, or your other responses, so feel free to elaborate.   

Post 2

Part I: Explain the roles of HSINT in countering agro-terrorism threats within the homeland. It is safe to say that agro-terrorism is a risk to homeland security given the broad, relatively unsecured food production and transportation network supplying not only the US, but other countries as well. However, there have been no documented agroterrorism events on the homeland in the past twenty years (Olson, 2012). Nonetheless, it remains a critical focus of HSINT entities as a food supply disruption would have dire consequences similar to what we’ve seen with the recent supply chain disruptions. The main role of HSINT is to identify critical food production and dissemination nodes and then monitor international and domestic intelligence channels for any threats to these nodes. 

Part of monitoring critical nodes, HSINT should emplace biosurveillance and security measures in order to protect at-risk infrastructure. According to the Department of Homeland Security, biosurveillance primarily focuses on developing effective surveillance, prevention and operational capabilities for detecting and countering biological threats (DHS, accessed August 30, 2022). Detection systems should focus on rapid detection of biological events and they should also relay critical information back to decision makers. The same holds true for pandemic events.

Part II: Elaborate on the responsibilities of HSINT in countering pandemics. Once critical nodes are identified, HSINT can focus on identifying threats against those nodes. Peter Clark of the RAND research team recommends the following responsibilities for intelligence measures: identify potential threats; understand motivations; predict behavior (Clark, 2004). These responsibilities are critical in preventing or at least minimizing the effects of a pandemic. While predicting behavior might be a fruitless effort, HSINT can focus on identifying specific threats and monitoring for suspicious behavior tied to these threat streams.  

In addition, HSINT can be vital in informing public awareness. Pandemics create confusion which could make the situation worse. Distributing well sourced, vetted information during community outreach events could help calm the public. It can also help them stay informed with up-to-date information. 

Part III: Provide an example of how HSINT could be employed most effectively if the United States suffered a terrorism-related agro-terrorism attack or faced a nationwide pandemic. Just as in the case of a CBRNE event, HSINT plays a large role in early detection as well as predictive analysis in the event of an agroterrorism attack. 

Since there is no way to protect every possible agriculture node, early detection of an event is a critical responsibility for HSINT. The sooner the detection and identification happens, the sooner a tailored response plan can be put in place. Peter Chalk’s article “Agroterrorism – What is the threat and what can be done about it?” lists early detection of exotic/foreign pathogenic agents as the first response measure (Chalk, 2004). Most livestock or agriculture products transit from farm to table through a variety of processing or transportation nodes. Early detection of foreign pathogens can prevent widespread distribution making it easier for the local agriculture agencies to contain. 

In addition to early detection of pathogens, HSINT can help in early prediction of disease dispersion patterns (Chalk, 2004). Just like CBRNE events, the prediction of affected areas early on will help shape the containment and cleanup plan. This will also help keep the public informed as to avoid mass panic or hoarding. It will also help local authorities manage their resources by concentrating them on the affected areas. Early detection and predictive analysis are key to an effective response. 


Biosurveillance | Homeland Security. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/biosurveillance

Chalk, P. (2004). Agroterrorism: What Is the Threat and What Can Be Done About It? RAND Corporation. https://doi.org/10.7249/RB7565

Olson, Dean. (2012). “Agroterrorism: Threats to America’s Economy and Food Supply.” FBI: Law Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/featured-articles/agroterrorism-threats-to-americas-economy-and-food-supply

Post 3

Part I: Explain the roles of HSINT in countering agro-terrorism threats within the homeland.
The roles of HSINT in countering agro-terrorism mirrors many of the other aspects of Homeland Security.  They need to gather the intel from multiple sources to gage whether there is a plausible threat regarding an attack on our agricultural community.  In our reading this week, it talked about how plans were discovered in al Qaeda caves on how to effectively pull off agroterrorism against the US.  This means that it is a very real threat and HSINT must treat it as such.  They can work together with the IC to trace threats that could try to damage, infect, or otherwise reduce food sources.  As mentioned in their article, Daschle and Myers (2016) talked about how an attack like this would not only harm people, but it would also affect the economy, as well as have social and political impacts.  We saw a glimpse of this during COVID when due to supply and demand, people were buying up food in bulk, leaving others unable to get certain items.  The Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 (HSPD-9) listed protecting the food and agriculture system from attacks as one of the DHS’s responsibilities.  This saw the creation of the Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism (SPPA) Initiative which was an effort for the FBI, FDA, DHS, and USDA to cooperate in order to analyze vulnerabilities, detect warning signs, and mitigate threats to the best of their abilities (FDA, 2005).

Part II: Elaborate on the responsibilities of HSINT in countering pandemics.
The DHS has a wide variety of responsibilities in countering pandemics.  For example, according to the DHS website (2022), CBP must reroute any flights coming from an infected country into designated airports to minimize spread and ensure proper screening.  FEMA activates its coordination centers and assists HHS with immunization/vaccination efforts.  ICE quarantines people possibly infected to stop the spread.  TSA also focuses their efforts on travelers coming into the US and ensures people who are possibly infected and on the Do Not Board list do not make it onto an airplane.  DHS also uses intelligence gathered to aid in the determination of the disease/virus and its possible origin.  Knowing what is causing the pandemic early on will ensure the proper care is given to those infected and reduce time and money spent on attempting to determine what is wrong with those infected.  

Part III: Provide an example of how HSINT could be employed most effectively if the United States suffered a terrorism-related agro-terrorism attack or faced a nationwide pandemic.
The DHS would be most effective in recovering from an agro-terrorism attack by things like offering assistance to local law enforcement (who is not as equipped to handle a situation like that) and cooperating with other agencies to determine the source of the attack to mitigate future attacks.  They can act as a liaison between local and federal agencies when the need to acquire more resources arises and track the effectiveness of the plan being implemented and make changes if needed in order to streamline recovery in the event of a future attack.  They can also share knowledge or plans they currently have in place with cooperating agencies who may not have practiced for an event like this.  The DHS is also responsible for aiding the recovery which in this case could be getting necessary food where it is needed and restoring economic and social activities to normal.  One more way they can help is training first responders to make sure they are well equipped to handle the scenario.  The DHS offers numerous different training programs to first responders, from suicide prevention to bioterrorism attacks.  Something as simple as having a member from DHS travel to different agencies and offer classes could make a huge impact on how effective that agency is when faced with a terrorist attack.

Daschle, T. & Myers, B. (2016). A Threat to the Food System.  US News. https://transweb.sjsu.edu/sites/default/files/SP-1118_SeeSomethingSaySomething.pdf
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (2022). What DHS does during Pandemics. https://www.dhs.gov/what-dhs-does-during-pandemics
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2005). Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism (SPPA) Initiative. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/hsin-fy20-annual-report_1.pdf

Post 4

PART 1:  The role of the HSINT in countering agro-terrorism is to collect information to prevent agro-terrorism, and disperse to the agencies on the frontlines. According to (Monke, 2004), agencies such as the USDA, DHS, commercial farmers, food manufacturers and retailers all play a critical role in preventing agro-terrorism and maintaining biosecurity to protect our food sources. For example, when the United States defeated the Al-Qaeda networks in the Middle East, numerous documents were discovered planning an attack on agriculture and methods targeting America’s food supply (Olson, 2012). Simply put, the Department of Homeland Security and Intelligence community plays a critical role in collecting and dispersing information to those responsible for our food and Agriculture system.

PART 2:  Elaborating on the responsibilities of the HSINT in countering pandemics is primarily to share information across the DHS and more specifically to the Center for Disease Control on methods to counter pandemics. As we have witness over the past four years, the CDC has been the primary source of information pertaining to COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, procedures and information on mitigating the virus was led by the CDC and channeled through media sources and other agencies. Of course considering a pandemic developed to be a weapons has several implications within the intelligence community. The HSINT is responsible for collecting and countering these threats before they are used on American soil.

PART 3:  An example of the HSINT being employed in the event of an agro-terrorism attack or pandemic would be to provide actionable intelligence on the threat and providing updates to communities impacted by the event. Additionally, the HSINT should be collecting data to prevent future attacks from occurring. Moreover, the HSINT should be sending representatives to investigate and assist those communities to control the damage from becoming overwhelming.


Monke, (2004).  Agroterrorism: Threats and preparedness.  Congressional Research Service.  https://fas.org/irp/crs/RL32521.pdf

Olson, D. (2012).  Agroterrorism: Threats to America’s economy and food supply.  FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.  https://leb.fbi.gov/2012/february/agroterrorism-th…

Post 5

I would agree that HSINT takes a similar approach to agroterrorism as it does to CBRNE or a more conventional type of terrorism that we may think of daily. Due to the lack of agroterrorism within the U.S. it would seem as though the intelligence community’s approach does work in detection and prevention. Once again information sharing is critical to track threats from abroad that could make their way into the U.S. The ability of the IC to work with the homeland security enterprise must be fluid to ensure the best possibility of preventing agroterrorism. DHS seems to take the lead on spearheading the initiative for preventing agroterrorism. Do you think that DHS is spread to thin when it is given the whole task of protecting the U.S. from most threats?

There are a lot of moving parts involved with the prevention, detection, and response to a pandemic. Do you think that more effort is put into any one phase of a pandemic, such as detection versus response? It must require great coordination among departments internally and externally to DHS for the initial response to a pandemic or possible outbreak. Also, proper training would need to be provided for all of those on the frontlines of responding to a pandemic. Do you think the funding provided to these agencies and departments allows for the best training and proper supply of equipment needed to combat these threats?

How informed do you think local and state law enforcement are in terms of pandemic outbreaks? Is there more that DHS, CDC, and similar agencies could provide to better prepare these departments for the next possible outbreak, or do you think it will remain reactive rather than proactive?

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