Jerome Bjelopera and Mark Randol agree stating,” The Obama Administration has no unified strategy, plan or framework focused on homegrown jihadist terrorism.
BY ELLEN CANNNON
On March 7, 2011, Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee will open a Congressional inquiry into what King refers to as “the “radicalization” of the Muslim community in America and the extent to which Muslim Americans are cooperating with law enforcement officials in combatting the growing number of homegrown terrorist incidents by members of the Muslim American community.”( Laurie Goodstein, “Muslims to be Congressional Hearings Main Focus,” www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/us/politics/08muslim.html?)
Since 9/11 there have been 43 homegrown violent jihadist plots or attacks in the United States. Between May, 2009 and November 2010, arrests were made for 22 homegrown jihadists inspired terrorist plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents. (Jerome Bjelopera and Mark Randol, “American Jihadist Terrorism” Combatting a Complex Threat.” Congressional Research Service, 12/7/2010)
Representative King is no newcomer to controversy in the area of homeland security. Refusing to be silenced by ‘political correctness,’ Representative King claims that he majority of mosques in America are not venues of spirituality, but dens of Islamic radicalization where hate against America is regularly taught and aggressively promoted. Representative King also contends that the majority of mosques in America promote homegrown terrorist activities and violence.
In addition, Rep. King has repeatedly argued that American Muslim leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the effort to disrupt terrorist plots. King claims, “federal and local law enforcement officials have told me that they receive little or in most cases no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.”…”I also know of imams instructing members of their mosques not to cooperate with law enforcement officials investigating the recruitment of young men in their mosques as suicide bombers. We need to find the reasons for this alienation.” (Rep. Peter King, “What’s Radicalizing Muslim Americans? Newsday, December 19, 2010)
It is not surprising that the upcoming hearings have produced intense reactions from a variety of political and theological circles. The hearings have been overwhelmingly denounced by American Muslim community leaders, politicians, journalists, and intellectuals.
King’s response to his adversaries is cool and to the point-“The issues I raise are controversial. But to me, it is something that has to be discussed and has been put off way too long.”
(Raymond Hernandez,”Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Is Focus of Planned Inquiry,”www.nytimes.com/2010/12/17/nyregion/17king.html?17king.html?ref=)
Congressman King is not alone in his reaction to homegrown terrorist threats and the uptick in homegrown terrorist plots since 2009.
A new report by the group headed by former 9/11 commission leaders, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, agree with King’s message if not his tone. The latest report published by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group, states “Our long-held belief that homegrown terrorism couldn’t happen here has created a situation where we today are stumbling blindly through the legal, operational, and organizational minefield of countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment occurring in the U.S.”
Examining recent domestic terror activities, from the Fort Hood rampage to the foiled Christmas Day airliner attack in late 2009, the 9/11 commissioners strongly state, “that for too long we incorrectly believed that homegrown terrorism existed in other parts of the world. Not only were we myopic, but as a result “there is still no federal agency specifically charged with identifying radicalization or working to prevent terrorist recruitment of U.S. citizens and residents.” (Lolita Baldor, “US Slow to react to Homegrown Terrorist Threats,” www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/09.
Both Kean and Hamilton warn it is no longer wise to believe that American jihadists will not resort to suicide bombings.
One of the researchers on the report, Bruce Hoffman, of Georgetown University, notes that while homegrown terrorism is not the primary threat we face, we cannot be complacent as to the reality of the threat it does pose. In May, 2010, Hoffman said in congressional testimony, “it is difficult to be complacent when an average of one plot is now being uncovered per month over the past year and perhaps even more are being hatched that we do not know about.”
The NYPD has gathered further evidence regarding the growing threat from “homegrown” terrorists. Top officials in the NYPD note that “it was formerly controversial to state that Americans will increasingly face a challenge from “homegrown” terrorism. The grim statistics cannot be denied,” (Judith Miller, “New Yorkistan? www.city-journal.org/printable.php/id.=6269)
Mitch Silber, the NYPD’s top terrorism analyst, told a gathering of security experts meeting at police headquarters in May, 2010, “that the preponderance of major terrorist plots against Americans since 9/11 was “homegrown” that is planned by terrorists either born or raised in the United States.” In fact, stated Silber, my latest report on homegrown terror shows that 90% of the core conspirators of jihadists plots against America and the West throughout the world since 2004 and 2009 were radicalized in the West.”
Silber offers sobering data stating, “The terrorism threat as of 2009 now comes mainly from “younger Muslim men between the ages of 15 and 35 who are middle class rather than extremely poor and have no Al Qaeda connection but have been radicalized by exposure to an extreme and minority interpretation of Islam.” (Judith Miller, New Yorkistan” www.city-journal.org/printable.php./id.=6269)
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander agrees with Mitch Silber and strongly supports the upcoming House Homeland Security hearing. He states, “When will the United States learn that our current behavior and lack of coordinated existential strategy since 9/11 is obviously not working? As a devout and concerned American Muslim working tirelessly against radical Islam and its root cause of political Islam, I thought the Fort Hood massacre would teach us that. It did not…I thought the Christmas bomber would tip us toward the battle of ideas, but nothing. And now on May 1, naturalized American citizen Faisal Shazhad, is the next in the growing line of homegrown radical Islamists. And again, the immediate fallout in the media, government, and academe is still one mostly of denial, dismissal, and fear of even mentioning the real theo-political battle we face against political Islam.” (Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, “My fellow Muslims, We Must Wake Up!, www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/05/07/m-zuhdi-jasser-tim.)
Radicalization is a different process and phenomena than terrorism. However, we remain far from understanding radicalization and very far from developing a working model of counter-radicalism.
A recent report by Cifullo, Carpenter, and Levitt is highly critical of government policy regarding radicalization within the United States, “However well intended our current counterterrorism policy is, it cannot do much in reality.” They find current national strategy to be largely “inconsistent, haphazard, lacking in integration and coherency and most important, improvises policy rather than having an understanding of what is truly wrong”. Furthermore, they contend “that our present approach to homegrown radicalism is so limited that it hampers efforts to intervene early in the radicalization probes, both domestically and abroad, to prevent individuals or subcommunities from becoming violent.(“What’s the Big Idea,? Confronting the Ideology of Islamist Extremism”, Homeland Security Policy Institute and Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 4, 2011) Read more here.