Terrorism is a threat to the safety and security of any and every country. And naturally, if the terrorist threat arises from within a country’s own people, it is even more concerning. Combating this threat must be a top priority for law enforcement. But, what is extremely important is that law enforcement have its eyes wide open as to the reality and all sources of such a threat.
In recent times, there has been an abundant focus on the threat of Muslim homegrown terrorism. Judging by the recent plots that have been in the news – underwear bomber, Times Square bomber, Ft. Hood – this would seem to be prudent. The question remains, however, do the facts support such a contention, namely, that Muslim homegrown terror is a serious threat to the safety and security of the United States.
This is according to a study by Marquette University Assistant Professor Risa A. Brooks: “Muslim ‘Homegrown’ Terrorism in the United States: How Serious Is The Threat?” After analyzing the data, Professor Brooks concludes:
My conclusion should be generally reassuring to Americans: Muslim homegrown terrorism does not at present appear to constitute a serious threat to their welfare. Nor is there a significant analytical or evidentiary basis for anticipating that it will become one in the near future. It does not appear that Muslim Americans are increasingly motivated or capable of engaging in terrorist attacks against their fellow citizens and residents.
There is not enough space to go over the entire study here, but I will highlight some salient points:
Studies of Muslim communities provide little evidence of changes or trends that suggest they are becoming any less resilient against the threat of militancy in their midst.
For example, one major effort funded by the Department of Justice, in which researchers resided for periods of two to three months in four midsized Muslim American communities, found that several features of these communities rendered them intrinsically resistant to militancy, including, in particular, the strength of their communal organizations and social networks. In addition, there were efforts expressly geared toward preventing and exposing any signs of militancy, including both outreach programs and a variety of internal monitoring, or self-policing, practices.
Despite the concerns expressed by many analysts and public officials, the evidence does not support the conclusion that Americans face a growing threat of deadly attacks plotted by Muslims in the United States.
Seen in light of the threats posed by other segments of the population, the one posed by Muslim Americans appears neither especially novel, nor severe.
And the Professor puts the Muslim threat in persepctive:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, there were nearly sixty rightwing terrorist plots largely of this nature from 1995 to 2005.
Another study found that from September 2001 through September 2010, there were eighty domestic plots involving primarily right-wing terrorists (source: Beutel, “Data on Post-9/11 Terrorism in the United States.” See also Strom et al., “Building on Clues,” p. 7.)
The article concludes by saying:
This article demonstrates that the threat posed by Muslim homegrown terrorism is not particularly serious, and it does not appear to be growing, especially in its most lethal incarnation—deadly attacks within the United States. Indeed, many analysts and public officials risk overstating the threat posed by Muslim American terrorism. Mischaracterizing that threat, in turn, is potentially costly and counterproductive for the security of the United States and the welfare of its citizens, for several reasons.
First, misjudging the homegrown threat could lead the country to overinvest or poorly spend on counterterrorism initiatives…Second, overstating or poorly characterizing the challenges posed by Muslim American terrorism risks undermining societal resilience in the face of terrorism…Finally, mischaracterizing and inflating the Muslim homegrown American threat could prove self-defeating to the country’s efforts to defend against it. Especially worrisome is the potential that, in an atmosphere in which the threat of homegrown terrorism appears serious and worsening, law enforcement will employ counterproductive methods that threaten the trust between its officials and Muslim communities—trust that underpins the demonstrated capacity and willingness of American Muslim communities to self-police and root out militants in their midst.
What the professor is saying is this: always focusing on the “Muslim terrorist monster,” which – as the evidence shows – is not as serious a threat as is being stated, actually does a disservice to the security of our country. This is a point that Loonwatch and a plethora of others have been making for quite some time now. Starting with our piece, “All Terrorists are Muslims except…” up until our present discussion of Charles Kurzman’s work, as well as frequent updates on the blown-out-of-all-proportion “Muslim terror” threat, we have highlighted the farcical nature of the national narrative regarding Muslims and terror.
The fact remains that as long as the “terror expert” and “Islamophobia” industries are intertwined and profiting off of the new fear, we will continue to see resources spent in that direction. We may see hundreds of books, reports, studies (such as the one by Prof. Risa A. Brooks), exposes, detailed research, and surveys empirically squashing the “anti-terror” propaganda machine, but until Americans get hip to the fact that they are being taken for a ride, the con-artists will continue to reap the benefits.
However, with that said, work by Charles Kurzman, Spencer Ackerman, Risa Brooks and others are important contributions to the new, yet increasing literature shedding light on the moribund nature of the exaggerated threats of “Islamic extremism” and “homegrown terrorism.”