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New congressional report lists 53 homegrown violent plots since 9/11

A report issued by Congress’ research organization estimates there have been uncovered in the U.S. 53 homegrown plots by American citizens, permanent residents or visitors radicalized while in the country.

The report, American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat, released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on Nov. 15, defines what “homegrown” terror activity is and makes policy recommendations to Congress on how to handle the threat. It also delves into specifics on each plot.

The report said the term “jihadist” describes radicalized individuals using Islam as an ideological and/or religious justification for their belief in the establishment of a global caliphate, or jurisdiction governed by a Muslim civil and religious leader known as a caliph.

Of the 53 attacks since 9/11, CRS said more than half have occurred in the last two years. Between 2009  and October, 2011, there were 32 arrests of “homegrown,” jihadist-inspired in terrorist plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States.” It added that two of the plots resulted in attacks and most of the 2009-2011 homegrown plots “likely reflect a trend in jihadist terrorist activity away from schemes directed by core members of significant terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.”

It said “homegrown” terrorists may exhibit a number of conventional shortcomings compared to international terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda. The homegrown violent jihadists possibly lack deep understanding of specialized tradecraft such as bomb making and they don’t have the financing, training camps, support networks, and broad expertise housed in international organizations. Those obstacles mostly prevent them from independently engaging in large-scale suicide strikes. As a result, they turn to violence requiring less preparation, such as assaults using firearms. It said those proclivities present particular challenges for law enforcement and anti-terror efforts.

Although law enforcement has implemented outreach programs with Islamic-American communities and groups, agencies have to seek substantive relationships “rather than token discussions or community relations events.” Civil liberties of those groups also play a big role, it said. “Striking a balance between security and liberty—relying on local communities to provide critical information to further proactive policing while simultaneously building trust and preserving the freedoms of community members—is seen as difficult,” it said.

Congressional oversight of President Obama’s domestic Countering Violent Extremism strategy (CVE) might be necessary, as well as more specifics on the program from the White House.

“The Administration’s CVE strategy lacks specifics,” it said. “The strategy’s domestic focus includes general philosophical statements about the importance of protecting civil rights, federal cooperation with local leaders in the private and public sectors, and the insistence that the strategy does not center solely around fighting one particular radical ideology. However, the eight-page document does not detail programs,” it said.


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