Homegrown terrorism, the government still doesn’t have a clue

Posted on September 12, 2010

U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, named as th...

Image via Wikipedia

Our government still has no plan to deal with homegrown terrorists?   Are you kidding me? 

From the Washington Times

The U.S. was slow to take seriously the threat posed by homegrown radicals and the government has failed to put systems in place to deal with the growing phenomenon, according to a new report compiled by the former heads of the Sept. 11 Commission. 

The report says U.S. authorities failed to realize that Somali-American youths traveling from Minnesota to Mogadishu in 2008 to join extremists was not an isolated issue. Instead, the movement was one among several instances of a broader, more diverse threat that has surfaced across the country. 

Our long-held belief that homegrown terrorism couldn’t happen here has thus created a situation where we are today stumbling blindly through the legal, operational and organizational minefield of countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment occurring in the United States,” said the report.  (emphasis mine) 

As a result, there is still no federal agency specifically charged with identifying radicalization or working to prevent terrorist recruitment of U.S. citizens and residents, said the report, which was released Friday by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group. (emphasis mine) 

But the U.S., the group said, should have learned earlier from Britain‘s experience. Prior to the 2005 London suicide bombings, the British believed they were less vulnerable to an attack because Muslims there were better integrated, educated and wealthier than their counterparts elsewhere. 

Similarly, the U.S. believed that its melting pot of nationalities and religions would protect it from internal radical strife, the report said. 

Sorry, but the “couldn’t happen here” thinking is exactly what gets us into trouble.  The point of security is to assess potential risks, however unlikely, and then do what is necessary within reason to make sure that risk is minimized.  What if I were to assume that because I live in a “nice” neighborhood with bright street lights and a low crime rate someone would never try to break into my house?  Would that mean I shouldn’t lock the doors?  Of course not.  Because, however unlikely, when it comes to security of my loved ones every possible step needs to be taken to minimize the possibility of a break in .  This doesn’t mean that we can’t prioritize threats and take greater care to prevent those which are more likely. It does mean that we need to think outside the box when it comes to terrorism and leave no assumption unquestioned. 

This is especially true when it’s pointed out above that our government didn’t even bother to learn the lessons Great Britain faced with its suicide bombings by three British-Pakistani and one British-Jamaican on July 7, 2005.   Why,  after both World Trade Center attacks (the first in 1993 and the second in 2001) did the government not begin to think we could experience the same kind of domestic threat here?  

Even more recent as pointed out in the Times article the Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hasan was an act of homegrown terrorism. Major Hasan is an American-born muslim who had contact with another radicalized American-born muslim who is now on the kill/capture list of terrorists, Anwar Al-Awlaki.  It was revealed that BEFORE Major Hasan perpetrated his shooting spree he had show signs of radicalization as early as 2005 and had also been in contact with Al-Awlaki.  Even with this knowledge the FBI  deemed Hasan “not a threat.”  

While I’d like to believe the government has finally awoken to the homegrown terrorist threat by finally adding it to the national security strategy for the first time, I’m not so sure that’s the case.   You see, when the final report on Major Hasan’s shooting spree at Fort Hood came out just last month, even with his known contact with Anwar Al-Awlaki and reports of his yelling “Allahu Akbar” during the incident, there was no mention of terror or terrorism in the report. 

How long until we finally can learn this lesson?