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Entries in Homegrown Terrorists (5)

Thursday
Mar152012

FBI Warns of Homegrown Violence After Afghan Massacre

Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal authorities have issued a warning there could be "acts of violence" in the United States sparked by the recent massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan allegedly by an American soldier.

"The FBI and DHS [Department of Homeland Security] are concerned that this event could contribute to the radicalization or mobilization of homegrown violent extremists [HVEs] in the homeland, particularly against U.S.-based military targets which HVEs have historically considered legitimate targets for retaliation in response to past alleged U.S. military actions against civilians overseas," the FBI and DHS said in a joint "awareness bulletin" to law enforcement agencies on Wednesday.

The bulletin noted that there is no specific threat at this time and said it is "unlikely" the recent killings and other "high-profile perceived offenses against Islam" would motivate any homeland extremist to violent action.  "However," the bulletin says, "[the killings] will likely be incorporated into violent extremist propaganda and could contribute to an individual's radicalization to violence."

High level federal officials have repeatedly warned that one of the greatest threats facing the American homeland comes from self-radicalized, homegrown terrorists who may be inspired by -- but have little to no contact with -- major terrorist groups.

In December, a Congressional report released by the staff of Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said such homegrown terrorists were a "severe and emerging threat" to the U.S. military at home and said military communities in the U.S. "have recently become the most sought-after targets of violent Islamist extremists seeking to kill Americans in their homeland."

Tensions at home and abroad have been strained since an American soldier was accused of systematically murdering 16 Afghan civilians -- mostly women and children -- in the middle of the night Sunday, apparently in an unprovoked attack in Kandahar.

The soldier, identified only as a staff sergeant hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, surrendered when he returned to his base in Afghanistan and has since been moved to Kuwait.

The killings have sparked several heated protests in Afghanistan during which Afghans burned an effigy of President Obama as well as the cross.

Speaking of the alleged killing spree, Obama said Tuesday, "The United States takes this as seriously as if it were our own citizens and our own children who were murdered."

"The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous and it's unacceptable. It's not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military," he said. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

ABC News Exclusive: Napolitano on Al Qaeda, Homegrown Terror Threats

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Heading into the 10th anniversary weekend of the 9/11 attacks, the nation’s top counterterrorism officials have ramped up security measures, and are looking out for a “lone wolf.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told ABC News that “we don’t right now have intelligence that a big plot is in the works.”

But while there is no known specific plot by al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, Napolitano warned, “now that differentiates from the lone wolf, the lone actor that we may not know about, who may already be in the United States and so it requires us to be vigilant and the public to be vigilant. ”

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Napolitano surveyed the state of U.S. defenses against al Qaeda.

While “core al Qaeda” in Pakistan and Afghanistan has deteriorated, she said, al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has grown into a real threat.

A big reason al Qaeda is so potent, she said, was its leader, Anwar Alwaki.  Alwaki is an American Imam who became radicalized and is now operating his own terror group in Yemen.  Sources have told ABC News that Alwaki is intent on striking the U.S. in any way he can.

In fact, an ABC News analysis shows that Alwaki is either behind, or has inspired, 19 Americans who federal prosecutors say were homegrown radicals.

“He is at the top of the list, if not at the top,” Napolitano said of Alwaki when asked if he was a prominent threat.  “He knows Western ways, he kind of knows how to market to Westerners and we know that al Qaeda is trying to recruit."

Napolitano said Alwaki is using online magazines and videos to try to lure disaffected Americans into his violent ideology.

“You know the Internet is a powerful tool for good, for friendships, for commerce, for what have you, but it also can be used for evil,” the DHS secretary said.  “And we see it being used to recruit young Americans, not necessarily even young Americans, to a terrorist-type ideology.”

She added that one of the biggest changes she has seen as DHS secretary, “is the movement toward the home-grown violent extremist.  The person who for whatever reason decides to attack his fellow citizens.”

To combat the surge in homegrown terror, Napolitano said, “requires us to focus more on training local law enforcement, they’re the eyes out there.”  And she emphasized, getting the public engaged, through the “See something, say something” program, is key to stopping homegrown threats.  “The public,” she said, “are our other set of eyes.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May112011

NYPD Arrests Two Men Suspected in Terrorist Plot

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two men described as home-grown radicals intent on committing a terrorist act in New York City were reportedly arrested by police Wednesday night.

Initial reports indicate the men were attempting to buy guns when they were arrested.

Details of the alleged terror suspects' identities are unknown.

The case, brought by the NYPD Intelligence Division, is currently slated for local prosecution under state terror statutes.

Though prosecuted in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden, it was not immediately known if the case had been developed prior to his death or if it arose afterward.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec212010

Attorney General's Blunt Warning on Terror Attacks

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Justice(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder has an urgent message for Americans. While he is confident that the United States will continue to thwart attacks, "the terrorists only have to be successful once."  And while it is not certain we will be hit, the American people, he told ABC News, "have to be prepared for potentially bad news."

"What I am trying to do in this interview is to make people aware of the fact that the threat is real, the threat is different, the threat is constant," he said.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview, the attorney general disclosed chilling, new details about the evolving threat of homegrown terror, and touched on topics ranging from Wikileaks to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  What was uppermost on his mind, however, is the alarming rise in the number of Americans who are more than willing to attack and kill their fellow citizens.

"It is one of the things that keeps me up at night," Holder said.  "You didn't worry about this even two years ago -- about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do.  And -- that is of -- of great concern."

"The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens -- raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born," he said.

In the last 24 months, Holder said, 126 people have been indicted on terrorist-related charges.  Fifty of those people are American citizens.

"I think that what is most alarming to me is the totality of what we see, the attorney general said.  "Whether it is an attempt to bomb the New York City subway system, an attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit, an attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square...I think that gives us a sense of the breadth of the challenges that we face, and the kinds of things that our enemy is trying to do."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec012010

Top Counterterrorism Official Warns of Potential Attack, 'Innocent Lives Will Be Lost'

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate a car bomb Nov. 26 at a Portland, Ore., Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Photo Courtesy - Multnomah County Jail(WASHINGTON) -- The United States is due for a deadly terrorist attack that will likely be carried out by a new breed of extremists radicalized in America's cities and towns, the country's top counterterrorism official said Wednesday in an unusually candid press conference.

Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, warned that despite a spate of thwarted recent bomb attempts, the country is facing an evolving threat from homegrown terrorists who will one day successfully kill Americans.

"We aim for perfection," Leiter said, but "perfection will not be achieved....Innocent lives will be lost."

"Just like any other endeavor we will not stop all the attacks....To say that we will not successfully defend against all attacks is certainly not to say that we are not trying to stop all attacks, we are. It is certainly not to say that any attack is OK. If there is an attack it may well be tragic," he said.

Last week, the FBI arrested Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a Somali-born U.S. national accused of planning to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore. Law enforcement officials said Mohamud was one of a growing number of Americans to self-radicalize and choose to carry out terror attacks on their own.

"We have to be honest that some things will get through," Leiter said. "And in this era of a more complicated threat, a more diverse threat and lower-scale attacks to include individuals who have been radicalized here in the homeland, stopping all the attacks has become that much harder."

Many of those Americans find inspiration online from Anwar Al Awalaki, an American radical cleric, who Leiter described as a dangerous threat directly involved in planning attacks on the U.S.

Leiter said Al Awlaki, believed to be hiding in Yemen among a dangerous Al Qaeda cell, had gone from being a propagandist to planning attacks outright. According to The New York Times, the cleric is currently the only American the government admits to having on its hit list.

The strength of Al Qaeda's central leadership, which organized the 9/11 attacks, has diminished, he said, but the group is still capable of carrying out lethal attacks, and pointed to the recent threats in Europe as originating from the group's hideout along Afghanistan's porous border with Pakistan.

Leiter said other attacks could come from splinter cells, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group affiliated with Al Awlaki, and believed responsible for last year's Christmas Day plane plot, and last month's thwarted printer-cartridge plot.

Leiter also warned against a knee-jerk reaction in the wake of an attack that would slow the country's ability to operate regularly. The country must be prepared to move forward following a deadly incident, including immediately pursuing the responsible terrorists, and reviewing the steps taken by law enforcement agencies.

He said it was essential for the country to show resilience in the wake of an attack, and not assume that terrorists posed an existential threat to the nation.

He said concerns about an impending attack and the ability to move the country forward following an attack were "very much a bipartisan sentiment."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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