'Homegrown' Muslim extremists seen as major threat

An article in the Los Angeles Times of all places details the rising concern of US terrorism experts over the "homegrown" jihadists who have been very active over the last year.

Sebastian Rotella writes:

Europe had been the front line, the target of successive attacks and major plots, while the U.S. remained relatively calm. But the number, variety and scale of recent U.S. cases suggest 2009 has been the most dangerous year domestically since 2001, anti-terrorism experts said:

* There were major arrests of Americans accused of plotting with Al Qaeda and its allies, including an Afghan American charged in a New York bomb plot described as the most serious threat in this country since the Sept. 11 attacks.

* Authorities tracked other extremism suspects joining foreign networks, including Somali Americans going to the battlegrounds of their ancestral homeland and an Albanian American from Brooklyn who was arrested in Kosovo.

* The FBI rounded up homegrown terrorism suspects in Dallas, Detroit and Raleigh, N.C., saying that it had broken up plots targeting a synagogue, government buildings and military facilities.

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued her strongest public comments yet on the homegrown threat.

"We've seen an increased number of arrests here in the U.S. of individuals suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, or supporting terror groups abroad such as Al Qaeda," Napolitano said in a speech in New York. "Home-based terrorism is here. And, like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture that we must now confront."

Reasons for the increased radicalization of American Muslims include greater access to extremist rantings on the internet as well as increased numbers of American Muslims finding their way to terrorist training camps in Pakistan and other hot spots of radicalism.

And this from a NY City Police terrorism expert

"Radicalization is clearly happening in the U.S.," said Mitchell Silber, director of analysis for the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department. "In years past, you couldn't say that about the U.S. You could say it about Europe."

Let's do a little arithmetic: Take increased homegrown jihadis; add one extremely high profile terrorism trial; include the fact that it will be held in one of the media centers of the western world.

What do you get when you add all those factors together?

Irresistible temptation for those with a martyr complex and an automatic weapon.


Hat Tip: Ed Lasky