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Glenn Greenwald: The Grave Threat of “Homegrown Terrorism”

Glenn Greenwald on the overblown and exaggerated threat of “homegrown terrorism”:

The Grave Threat of “Homegrown Terrorism”

by Glenn Greenwald

U.S. government officials and their cheerleaders in the community of so-called “Terrorism experts” have spent the last two years justifying Endless War and ever-increasing surveillance, detention and militarism authorities with a steady drumbeat of shrill warnings that the nation faces a new, grave menace: the threat of “Homegrown Terrorism” from radicalized American Muslims:

Fox News, September 10, 2010:

The government has failed to anticipate the danger from homegrown terrorists, some of whom immigrated to the United States, and now faces the most complex set of threats since the Sept. 11 attacks, analysts on an organization headed by the two 9/11 Commission co-chairmen warned Friday. . . .

“The United States has failed to fundamentally understand and prepare for these threats,” group member Bruce Hoffman said. “Terrorists may have found our Achilles’ heel. We have no strategy to deal with this growing problem and emerging threat.”

NPR, September 10, 2010:

Homegrown Terrorists Pose Biggest Threat, Report Says

A new report to be released later Friday says that in the nine years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the terrorist threat against the United States has fundamentally changed. The biggest threat is no longer coming from the dusty landscape of Afghanistan or the mountains of Pakistan border regions. Instead, experts say, the threat now comes from within our own borders, in the form of homegrown terrorists.

“A key shift in the past couple of years is the increasingly prominent role in planning and operations that U.S. citizens and residents have played in the leadership of al-Qaida and aligned groups, and the higher numbers of Americans attaching themselves to these groups,” a new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group says.

ABC News, December 21, 2010:

In a rare and wide-ranging interview, the attorney general [Eric Holder] disclosed chilling, new details about the evolving threat of homegrown terror . . . .  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.  . . .

“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. . . .

The Hill, February 9, 2011:

Homeland security and counter-terrorism officials warned lawmakers Wednesday that the nation is increasingly threatened by foreign terrorists who seek to recruit U.S. citizens.

The largest threat to the U.S. is no longer Osama Bin Laden, according to the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCIC), Michael Leiter, but is now Anwar Al-Awlaki, the head of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula group based out of Yemen.

The increased threat that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula poses revolves heavily around its ability to attract and reach U.S.-natives who want to be trained in terrorism techniques, and who could fall beneath the radar of intelligence circles more easily.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members at the hearing that domestic terrorism and homegrown radicalization is a very large focus of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2011:

The proliferation of radicalized followers of al Qaeda within the U.S. has put the nation at a heightened risk of terrorist attacks, though on a smaller scale than the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes, security officials told Congress Wednesday. . . . ”In some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since” 9/11, [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano told the House Committee on Homeland Security . . . U.S. counterterrorism officials, led by White House terrorism adviser John Brennan, are turning their sights on the threat posed by homegrown extremists . . . . The rise of homegrown threats has occurred despite U.S. successes fighting al Qaeda’s central command, according to a report released this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

CNN, May 11, 2010:

Several top U.S. counterterrorism officials had the same message: Americans radicalized at home and trained in Pakistan represent a new and disturbing threat to the American homeland.

Council on Foreign Relations, September 30, 2011:

Threat of Homegrown Islamist Terrorism

The number of terror incidents involving Islamic radicals who are U.S. citizens has seen an uptick in recent years. . . . As the list has grown, the question increasingly arises of how to combat Islamist terrorism at home.

ABC News, December 7, 2011:

Homegrown Islamic terrorists — possibly including radicalized American soldiers — who target U.S. military communities in the homeland are a “severe and emerging threat,” according to a new Congressional report.

The report, released by the staff of Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says there have been at least 33 “threats, plots and strikes” against U.S. military communities since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and the likelihood of another deadly attack by “militant Islamists” is a “severe threat.”

But like virtually every War on Terror threat hyped by government officials, these claims are wildly exaggerated to the point of pure fabrication; from The New York Times today:

A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.

The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.

Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.

Just consider what the constant hyping of this “miniscule threat” has enabled. The once-controversial Patriot Act was extended for another four years with no reforms whatsoever based on these fears (Christian Science Monitor: “National Intelligence Director James Clapper warned the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that failure to renew the [Patriot Act] provisions could stymie important intelligence-gathering operations both domestically and abroad”; ”‘When the clock strikes midnight tomorrow, we would be giving terrorists the opportunity to plot attacks against our country, undetected,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor Wednesday. In unusually personal criticism of a fellow senator, he warned that [Rand] Paul, by blocking swift passage of the bill, ‘is threatening to take away the best tools we have for stopping them’”).

Read the rest here


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  • Géji

    Oh! one last thing Ms Susanna, if you were first to work hard to demand crusadists be brought back home and leave Muslim countries, and us keep on demanding the jihadists for ceasefire that will make the occupying crusadists to finally stop the butchery , then I’m preety sure you will never see “jihadists”-(that is until next crusade ), but if not, then I’m afraid is case of “a good-luck-chum”. But either way its us, the ordinary beings that are paying the most price for the naked terrorism of both crusadists and jihadists. Chio!

  • Géji

    @ hey Susanna, how are you? I see sadly you’re still nursing the nasty bigotry since last thread. But anyhoo, why aren’t you being vocal enough as well to denounce the suicide bomber crusaders that are for the past the 10yrs, occupying, slaughtering, raping innocents beings ect-(the list of evil is long)- without any international approval or without any declaration of “war” of the 5 countries they’re currently simultaneously raping with matchless, peerless evil and terrorism? and yes-yes-yes dear, don’t you even dare deny, all knows they’re utmost definitely going for suicide mission knowing they may never come back from their crusade, isn’t?

  • khushboo

    “Alleged” Susanna, “ALLEGED suicide bomber”. Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. He could be a mentally ill guy like Jared Loughner except Loughner actually killed people and used his own weapon.

  • Susanna, did you read his reasoning behind his want to attack the Capitol? It was the same as all the others before him. Much as I disagree with his actions there is no smoke without fire. And of course, our old friends the FBI were the ones giving him the explosives and gun as usual.


  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 16.69

    What gives here
    Well I think the right to a fair trial and innocent until proven guilty for a start .
    Although reports that this case involves one man and a number of FBI agents who supplied the weapons, could it be they also supplied the idea too ? Its a sin in Islam to commit suicide . This would not be the first case where agents of the FBI seem to have rather a lot to do with an aborted attack that stood no chance from the start . When and who recruited this deluded chap should make interesting reading .

  • Susanna

    Seven days after the last post on the article, another jihadi suicide bomber wants to take out the Capitol building in DC. What gives here?

  • Believing Atheist

    @Rob H,

    You are right. Greenwald also wrote the following in the preface of his first book “How Would a Patriot Act?.”

    “During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.”

    However, he changed his views. People have a right to have an epiphany don’t you think?

  • AbuBooBoo

    Muslims and Islam are not the threat, the real threat is Islamophobia and legislation which increasingly tries to take away American’s rights and freedoms.

    Surely it’s never the legislation that would criminalize and jail those who would burn Korans they personally own.

    As for the article, happy to look at terrorist deaths in Europe and the United States in the past 15 years to determine which kind of terrorism is ‘overblown’ and which isn’t.

  • Rob H

    Glenn Greenwald writing about 9/11:

    “This is not to say that I was not angry about the attacks. I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met.”

    Oh yeah, he supported the invasion of Iraq, too. Why? Because he was “loyal” to his “leader.”

    He enabled all he now decries. And takes no responsibility for cheerleading for Bush and Cheney when it mattered most that people oppose them.

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    mmmm 14000 murders every year , none from so called Islamic Terrorism …..
    One does wonder what the priorities of the USA government should be .
    Gun control anyone ?
    Stronger domestic violence and anto rape legislation and support services ?
    Teaching children , not alienating them , child abuse prevention ?
    Drug and alcohol services ?
    Or Homeland security ?

  • Farlowe

    How is ZIONISM the threat? I dont get it.

  • Zain

    ZIONISM is the threat …… Period !

  • MIT_MD/PhD

    I have a solution for stopping terrorism towards Americans.

    Stop occupying other countries, stop with the war mentality, stop with idea of bombing Iran and start talking to them.
    There’s absolutely, virtually no diplomatic relations with Iran and now same with Syria. US has imposed about almost 30+ years of sanctions on Iran and the local people suffer. US wants regime change. Do you think even if the regime change happens, US/Israel will be happy? They will find some other faults.
    And other thing, if US allows Israel to attack Iran – then in a couple of years they will attack Turkey. Guaranteed.

    Anyways, enough of ranting.. back to the rounds to see my patients…

  • mindy1

    Good lord, these people 🙄

  • Al

    You are about to enter the spin zone!

  • khushboo

    The real threat are those calling Islam a threat.

  • QualifiedAgnostic

    This abhorrent doublethink,manipulation, and Islamophobia that is practiced by the government must come to it’s end.

  • QualifiedAgnostic

    Muslims and Islam are not the threat, the real threat is Islamophobia and legislation which increasingly tries to take away American’s rights and freedoms.

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