Thursday, September 23, 2010

Home-grown terror may be on the rise

One of the great accomplishments of the final years of the Bush administration was to prevent any further terrorist attacks in the United States. Between the diligent work of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the War in Iraq to distract and divert our enemies, the homefront has remained relatively unscathed.

Terrorism experts are warning that may be about to end. And no, it is not any particular Obama administration policy that is putting us at risk. It is an increasing willingness of Al-Qaeda and its allies to recruit Americans and settle for smaller attacks which are harder to predict and prevent.

"The impact of the attempted attacks during the past year suggests al-Qaeda, and its affiliates and allies, will attempt to conduct smaller-scale attacks targeting the homeland but with greater frequency," said Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, pointing to plots against the subway system in New York, the attempt to down a commercial airliner approaching Detroit and the failed car bombing in Times Square.

Leiter said in his testimony that "al-Qaeda in Pakistan is at one of its weakest points organizationally," but he noted that "regional affiliates and allies can compensate for the potentially decreased willingness of al-Qaeda in Pakistan - the deadliest supplier of such training and guidance - to accept and train new recruits."

"The spike in homegrown violent extremist activity during the past year is indicative of a common cause that rallies independent extremists to want to attack the homeland," said Leiter.

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