Many American’s are misinformed or uninformed when it comes to the actual threat of homegrown terrorism. To this day the threat is highly underestimated even after events such as Fort Hood, the underwear bomber and the New Year’s plot.
However, the lack of knowledge was even greater just 10 years ago. I conducted a full academic search of my university’s entire online library. The first relevant article I found was from August of 2002; almost 2 years after September 11, 2001. The piece from USA Today speaks of this new idea of targeting “suspected terrorist groups in America.” The “commitment to worldwide Jihad against the west” could hardly be fathomed by the writers let alone those who were reading it.
The following link led me to a speech given by FBI director Robert Mueller 4 years later in June 2006. He spoke to a division of the FBI in Cleveland, Ohio. His speech, entitled “Homegrown Terrorism and Radicalization Process,” took place shortly after 17 suspects were arrested in Toronto in an alleged terrorist plot to blow up several buildings in the city and to “behead the prime minister.” Was the media even reporting this incident the way they would have today? I honestly can’t say. I know I don’t remember this being reported, but then again, I was just graduating high school at this time and was much more concerned about myspace and lip gloss than national security. The Toronto arrests happened after the London and Madrid bombings. Both of which I do remember.
Still, even in 2006 Mueller emphasized that these suspects did not fall under the “normal” definition of terrorists at the time. He emphasized that they were not “sleeper operatives sent on suicide missions” but students and business men. I find it hard to remember when this type of terrorist was not the norm. This was a time, though less than 5 years ago, when we still had a hard time grasping ideas that there were people out their who viewed their democratic and capitalistic countries as the enemy. A time when everyone thought al-Qaeda was the only jihadist movement happening. Americans had no idea that these plots were happening in their own backyard.
There is a reason why Americans were not informed about this threat. In the very same month that Mueller was warning fellow FBI agents of these homegrown dangers, an article in Time magazine called “The American Exception” was published. Time highlights the ways in which America’s Muslim community is “different” from those in Britain and the rest of Europe. The magazine claims that the Unites States places more of an emphasis on religious liberty and Muslim integration into mainstream society. Just 5 years ago, Time felt that “Americans need not fear homegrown terrorism the way many European countries do.”
Then Fort Hood happened. Only a few years after Time considered America the “exception” to homegrown terrorism. Even after this massacre occurred in Texas, Time was still questioning whether is this a real, and continuing threat to the US: “When an Army major turns mass murderer on America’s largest military base, it fuels the worst fear of terrorism experts: Are lone wolves who don’t need an al-Qaeda training camp the new threat to homeland security?
…Wasn’t that question answered 3 years ago when Mueller made his speech in Ohio? Isn’t it a journalist’s job to report what the experts are saying (especially when it’s coming straight from the FBI,) instead of ignoring the threats in an effort to be politically correct?
Even today in 2011, while the threat of homegrown terrorism is rising daily and American’s are more aware of such events going on in their own country, mainstream media and even our elected politicians are downplaying the seriousness of America’s vulnerability. The Los Angeles Times states that authorities have broken up 22 attacks being plotted in the U.S. from May of 2009 to last November. A total of 21 plots had been foiled in the eight years previous to May 2009. And the government doesn’t think it’s necessary to extend the Patriot Act? But then again, why would they? Obama was blind enough to urge the American people to not rush to judgement on the intentions of Major Hasan even though he was shouting “Allahu akbar! (Allah is the greatest)” while intentionally murdering and injuring innocent people on a military base.
What is it going to take for the administration to cast aside their overly sensitive concerns of political correctness and actually make national security a top priority on it’s list?