Homegrown terrorism a growing concern for US intelligence
Homegrown terrorism is a growing threat, US intelligence chief Dennis Blair said this week. But the number of American Muslims engaged in extremist activity remain small and still largely focused overseas.
The nation’s top intelligence official warned this week of the threat posed by “homegrown terrorism,” though he said there was no evidence yet of an organized terrorist network operating in the US.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A small number of American Muslims are engaged in extremist activities at home and abroad, said Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair Tuesday at a Senate hearing. Their focus remains largely overseas, he said, but the threat to the homeland from Americans with links to radicals abroad remains troubling.
“We are concerned that the influence of inspirational figures such as Anwar al-Awlaqi will increasingly motivate individuals toward violent extremism,” Mr. Blair said. Mr. al-Awlaqi is the radical Yemeni cleric linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, as well possibly to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the Nigerian who attempted to blow up an American airliner in Detroit on Christmas Day.
Blair’s concerns about homegrown terrorism points up the difficulty US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have in spotting terrorists who are American citizens - the so-called “terrorist next door” phenomenon.
“The motivations for such individuals are complex and driven by a combination of personal circumstances and external factors,” Blair said.
These include feelings of alienation, concerns over American foreign policy, and ties to extremist Islamic groups and “negatively inspirational ideologues.”
Of particular concern are US citizens who travel abroad for training and return to attack the homeland, according to an unclassified version of the Annual Threat Assessment presented by Blair at the hearing.
Sporadic terror plots to persist
The assessment said violence from homegrown jihadists will persist “but will be sporadic.”
“A handful of individuals and small, discrete cells will seek to mount attacks each year, with only a small portion of that activity materializing into violence against the homeland,” according to Blair’s testimony.
So far, there is no evidence of a US-based group sophisticated enough to support organized attacks against the US.