UNO’s NCITE announces new projects, federal funding

UNO's NCITE researchers are working to expand their work thanks to a $14 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security.
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 3:36 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The University of Nebraska-Omaha’s National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center, NCITE, is launching a slate of new projects, thanks in part to $14 million in federal funding.

“It looks like the Department of Homeland Security has been able to see how well we’re doing in Nebraska and giving us a lot of work,” said Dr. Gina Ligon, NCITE’s director.

New work includes researching what links conspiracy theories to violence. The end goal is to stop violence before it starts.

“We’re trying to see if we could understand what that link is between someone is going to act violent on behalf of their belief or just share their belief,” Ligon said.

Ligon points to a case from March 2023 in southern Nebraska. Someone attacked a cell phone tower allegedly based on a belief that communication towers are dangerous for Americans.

A project at UNO has received a grant from the federal government to bolster its counterterrorism efforts.

“Everyone can believe what they wish. It’s the act of violence that happens on behalf of it that we are worried about here at NCITE,” Ligon said.

Ligon says NCITE has also noticed an increase in credible threats.

UNO student Camden Carmichael is helping with the research.

“No matter what your beliefs are, people are making threats across the board,” he said. “What I’m doing for this research project is compiling all the federally charged threats to election officials, education officials, healthcare officials in 2023.”

Carmichael says since 2013, researchers have counted more than 500 such threats.

Most recently, a woman was arrested on charges she threatened to kill former President Donald Trump and his youngest son, Barron. That threat never played out, unlike an attack on the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, allegedly by a man who was politically motivated.

“I hope that we can better understand the people who make these threats, and we can stop further violence from happening because of these threats,” Carmichael said.

New partners joining NCITE in 2023 include Duke University and University College London.