Two New Reports: Homegrown Terror Threat Exaggerated

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February 15, 2012

Two new reports seperate the facts and myths surrounding claims of the increasing home-grown terror threat, which columnist Glenn Greenwald has called “wildly exaggerated to the point of pure fabrication.” 

The first, Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11, from the North Carolina-based Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, says the feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans “has not materialized” and that the threat does not match the intensity of recent government rhetoric. Instead, the report finds that the Muslim-American community continues “to be a source of initial tips alerting law-enforcement authorities to violent terrorist plots,” having identified over 50 individuals who have been involved in terrorist plots since 9/11. The report’s authors say Americans need to remain vigilant against the threat of homegrown terrorism, but maintain “a responsible sense of proportion” in describing the actual threat that exists.

Adding to this picture, a report from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University examined the characteristics of over 100 people suspected of having ties to terrorist activity over the last few years. Its goal was to identify  "any perpetrator patterns that presented themselves in the hopes that the revelations could help equip decision-makers with insight to the threat.” Demographics analyzed included place of birth, overseas travel experience, age, education, etc. Instead of finding a common profile among the suspects, the report concludes that “no one, all-encompassing profile can be made” and “the exact moment of the radicalization process cannot be determined.”