Missouri State Highway Patrol warns about homegrown terrorism

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol discussed homegrown violent extremists Tuesday. 

A homegrown violent extremist is a person that "poses an ongoing threat to the United States by providing, supporting or plotting attacks on behalf of a Foreign Terrorist Organizations," who has lived or primarily lives in the United States, according to the presentation.

David Hall, a captain with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and director of Missouri Information Analysis Center, said the attack at Pulse night club in Florida was an example of a homegrown violent extremist attack. 

MSPH gave public health officials tips to detect whether someone might be a homegrown terrorist. 

"I think it's important because of the awareness factor," Hall said. "We need to make sure we're paying attention to what's going on around us and make sure we're reporting extremist activity." 

The average age of a homegrown extremist is 28 years-old in the United States. 

Forty-nine percent are Arab/Middle Eastern, 26 percent are white and 25 percent are African American, according to New America's International Security Program. 

Missouri has it's own program designed to detect potential terrorist and major criminal act threats. 

The Missouri Intelligence Liaison Officer Program, collects information on terrorists or major criminal acts and its transmitted from a local source, like local officers, to the Missouri Information Analysis Center for evaluation.

Hall said the focus should "not be on the 'who', but on the behavior."

Hall said people should report any suspicious behavior, for example, someone who buys large amounts of chemicals, takes photos of buildings that are not tourist sites and makes drastic changes in behavior and/or appearance.

Hall said people who are homegrown violent extremists will always martyr themselves. They will either leave a video or letter.

"We have to open our eyes, get rid of the blinders and pay attention to everything that is going on around us," he said.

The Public Health Prepardness conference continues Wednesday.