The Los Angeles Times has a lengthy article on the difficulties police face in developing a 'profile' of a typical terrorist or suicide bomber. Here's an excerpt.
After 9/11, police officials in New York City stepped up their counter-terrorism efforts against overseas plotters as well as the increasing threat of homegrown jihadists.
In a 2007 report posted on its website, the NYPD described how "unremarkable" individuals with ordinary jobs and ordinary lives could evolve into people who slaughter innocent civilians.
Middle-class males 15 to 35 years old who spend time in Muslim enclaves were the most likely candidates for radicalization, said the report, which drew from nearly a dozen cases to reach its conclusions.
Beyond that, the descriptions ran the gamut, from "the bored and/or frustrated, successful college students, the unemployed, the second and third generation" to "new immigrants, petty criminals and prison parolees."
Of this broad group, a few will experience a personal crisis, such as losing a job or family member, that draws them to extremist religion and eventually to violence, the report said.
The FBI released a report around the same time that similarly traced a path from pre-radicalization to embracing the cause to bonding with a group of like-minded jihadists.
Critics say such portraits are over-inclusive and provide a false justification for ethnic profiling and intrusive surveillance.
Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at City University of New York, said he believed the NYPD's report functioned as a "blueprint of sorts" for the agency's now-shuttered program that monitored mosques, ethnic restaurants and predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. Kassem represented plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits alleging that the department engaged in discriminatory surveillance of Muslims.
In addition to removing the report from its website, the NYPD agreed to prohibit investigations based largely on race, religion or ethnicity and to limit the use of undercover officers and confidential informants.
Lawrence Byrne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for legal matters, said the report was never meant to be a basis for police work. It was valid at the time but predated the rise of Islamic State, he said.
Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said such profiles are based on stereotypes and damage police relationships with Muslim communities.
"Rather than place a dragnet around an entire community, you focus on where you have suspicion of wrongdoing," she said. "It shouldn't be that being an observant Muslim is enough to trigger the Police Department's scrutiny."
There's more at the link.
The problem that's highlighted by the above excerpt is that of competing "rights". This is where the individual's right to privacy, freedom of religion, etc. runs headlong into the right of other individuals (and of society as a whole) to be secure in their persons and property, and free from the threat of terrorism. The irresistible force meets the immovable object . . . but the latter may no longer be so immovable. I'm afraid, after Paris and Brussels and so many more attacks, security considerations will triumph over individual rights. I don't agree with it, and I'll do all I can to minimize its impact; but I've got to face facts. It's inevitable.
After the Paris attacks in November last year, I wrote:
The terrorists haven't thought about it, I'm sure, but they're going to produce a similar and even greater tragedy for their own people than they've inflicted on France. The reaction from ordinary people like you and I won't be to truly think about the tragedy, to realize that the perpetrators were a very small minority of those who shared their faith, extremists who deserve the ultimate penalty as soon as it can be administered. No. The ordinary man and woman on the streets of France is going to wake up today hating all Muslims. He or she will blame them all for the actions of a few, and will react to all of them as if they were all equally guilty.
One can't blame people for such attitudes. When one simply can't tell whether or not an individual Muslim is also a terrorist fundamentalist, the only safety lies in treating all of them as if they presented that danger. That's what the French people are going to do now. That's what ordinary people all across Europe are going to do now, irrespective of whatever their politicians tell them. Their politicians are protected in secure premises by armed guards. They aren't. Their survival is of more immediate concern; so they're doing to do whatever they have to do to improve the odds in their favor. If that means ostracizing Muslims, ghettoizing them, even using preemptive violence against them to force them off the streets . . . they're going to do it.
I've written before about how blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few is disingenuous and inexcusable. I still believe that . . . but events have overtaken rationality. People are going to start relating to 'Muslims' rather than to 'human beings', just as the extremists label all non-Muslims as 'kaffirs' or 'kufars' - unbelievers - rather than as human beings. For the average man in a European street, a Muslim will no longer be a 'person'. He's simply a Muslim, a label, a 'thing'. He's no longer French, or American, or British, no matter what his passport says. He's an 'other'.
Again, more at the link.
That's what we're going to see from Belgians now, too . . . and from Americans, who rightly fear that the same carnage might come to our streets. The pressure on the authorities to act in a more security-oriented and less rights-oriented way is going to be absolutely immense. Furthermore, I should think the Democratic Party is praying very hard right now that no terror attack happens in the USA prior to this November's presidential elections. The Obama administration has admitted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Islamic refugees to this country. If one or more of them turns out to be another Tsarnaev, voters will take out their anger and frustration on the Democratic Party. Guaranteed. The same would happen to the Republican Party if they'd done likewise.
For that reason, both parties will be willing to abrogate civil liberties and human rights in the name of security (and their own re-election prospects). They've done so before with the so-called 'Patriot Act'. I now look for that to be strengthened and reinforced - at the expense of our rights, more's the pity.