At least 10 individuals either known to be or believed to be terrorists attempted to gain access to U.S. Army installations in 2018, according to an Army Crime Report for Fiscal Year 2018 that was obtained by Task & Purpose.
The Army uses a two-step process to vet potential visitors to its installations; the first is by using the National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification Index (NCIC-III). Of the 3.2 million people that visited Army installations in 2018, 35,018 were not allowed access after vetting through the NCIC-III — of those 35,018, 454 were convicted murderers, and 1,325 were registered sex offenders.
Ten of those were considered 'known or suspected terrorists,' flagged by a Known or Suspected Terrorist (KST) hit.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the designation of “known or suspected terrorists” refers to individuals for whom DHS has “a reasonable suspicion to believe that they have or are likely to be engaged in terrorist activity,” a definition that civil rights groups have criticized as vague and overly broad.
In one instance, on December 29, 2018, a soldier was coming back onto an installation in an Uber, according to the report. When the Uber driver went through the initial screening process to drop the soldier off, a KST hit was returned and later confirmed after dispatch called the FBI Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).
The driver was not allowed on the installation, although they were not informed of their status on the Terrorist Watch List.
In another case in July 2018, a driver of a U.S. trucking company was flagged with a positive KST hit when they “requested entry to pick up a load of undisclosed equipment,” the report said. The TSC was notified, and confirmed the KST hit.
“The driver's probation officer had noted that he was not to access any government bases as a condition of his federal parole,” the Crime Report explains. “The driver became argumentative and was told to leave or face arrest. The driver left without further incident.”
It was not clear at which installations these incidents occurred.
The Army has been working to beef up security at its installations, even releasing a plan from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment a few years ago titled “Army Installations 2025,” which outlines a strategy to enhance resiliency, prioritize investments in facilities, and more.
In May 2019, Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategic integration, said in a press release that the homeland “is no longer a sanctuary,” explaining why security on military installations is of the upmost importance.
“We've been treating our military installations as if they were sanctuary cities for a very long time, immune from the effects of the adversary,” Kidd said. “That is no longer the appropriate assumption.”
In order to increase security at installations, the Army is looking to smart technologies to increase security, even discussing bringing “5G wireless connectivity to all of its installations,” the Army said in the press release. One of the primary discussions is how to build “Army bases into smart installations capable of defending against enemy attacks,” per the release.
“We must be able to recover when these attacks happen,” Chris Thomas, director of information and technology for the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management said. “Keep in mind it's not if we're going to get attacked. It's when. It's going to happen.