February 6, 2015
Research Final Draft
Homegrown Terror: The Real Threat
Living in a post-September 11, 2001 world, it is clear to see all of the changes that have taken place within the country. These events have brought the topic of foreign terrorism into the spotlight, and they have shadowed the real threat about which many should worry. Due to an increase in the Islamic radicalization of Americans, disturbed mass shooters and anarchists, and hate groups full of extremists scattered across America, domestic terrorism still poses a large threat to America and the Western way of life. Many of the foiled plans and terror attacks on US soil in recent years have been attempted by American citizens, and more resources need to be directed to neutralizing domestic threats. In recent years, the United States has prosecuted an approximate total of 693 persons for terrorism. About 30% of these prosecutions resulted in charges. And coincidentally, about 30% of suspects were American citizens (“Home-Grown” 36).
It is obvious that domestic terrorism presents a large issue that demands to be taken seriously. After the majority of attacks on the continental United States have been perpetrated by citizens of the US, government officials are obligated to look into this pressing matter. The motives for these groups can range across the spectrum. There are terrorists that are fueled by a perceived decline in the government or the economy, and there are also terrorists who feel the need to be recognized or be a part of something larger than themselves, such as established terror groups from across the world. The most lethal terrorists that have actively been operating in the US are citizens who stray from the path of everyday society and look for acceptance in other places. Sadly, a commonplace some of these people seek accompaniment is online at Islamic extremist websites. Those who are alienated become inspired by the works of jihadist propaganda, and get pulled into a war that is spreading across the globe thanks to the advances in social media. Since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the only terror plots that have been proven to have any effectiveness to affect and kill American citizens are those set in place by home grown terrorists. An increasing amount of Muslims, some who are naturalized citizens and others who are American-born, have spoken and continue to speak to extremists with ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Many of the extremists who reach out to venerable, potential terrorists are transnational intermediaries. Said intermediaries are tasked with, and have played a large part in, increasing the rate at which Americans are radicalized and recruited into performing the appalling acts of terrorism. These recruiters have also opened doors to support for the operations and training of the defectors (Pregulman 1-2). There continues to be a steady rise in the number of attackers that act alone, but they are still influenced by online extremist pages. One specific account is that of Zale Thompson. Thompson attacked two police officers in New York City while wielding a hatchet before he was neutralized by police in October of 2014. From the beginning of the investigation into Mr. Thompson, the incident was treated as a terrorist attack. It was not until a few days later officials learned that Thompson had visited several websites, including sites with links to al Qaeda, ISIS, and al-Shabaab, all of which are well known terrorist organizations. Despite all of the counterterrorism efforts in place in New York after 9/11, Zale Thompson was not placed on a single watch list (Pervaiz A-1).
There are another two cases in which two Americans traveled to Pakistan and departed with the goal of becoming radicals. One, Najibullah Zazi, later attempted to detonate a backpack full of explosives in a subway. While the other, Faisal Shahzad, returned and tried to detonate a…