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CRS – American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat

American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat, Jerome P. Bjelopera, Analyst in Organized Crime and Terrorism, Mark A. Randol Specialist in Domestic Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, September 20, 2010

  • “Between May 2009 and August 2010, arrests were made for 19 “homegrown,” jihadist-inspired terrorist plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. Two of these resulted in attacks—U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan’s alleged assault at Fort Hood in Texas and Abdulhakim Muhammed’s shooting at the U.S. Army-Navy Career Center in Little Rock, Arkansas—and produced 14 deaths. By comparison, in more than seven years from the September 11, 2001, terrorist strikes (9/11) through May 2009, there were 21 such plots. Two resulted in attacks, and no more than six plots occurred in a single year (2006). The apparent spike in such activity after May 2009 suggests that at least some Americans—even if a tiny minority—continue to be susceptible to ideologies supporting a violent form of jihad. This report describes homegrown violent jihadists and the plots and attacks that have occurred since 9/11. “Homegrown” and “domestic” are terms that describe terrorist activity or plots perpetrated within the United States or abroad by American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized largely within the United States. The term “jihadist” describes radicalized individuals using Islam as an ideological and/or religious justification for their belief in the establishment of a global caliphate, or jurisdiction governed by a Muslim civil and religious leader known as a caliph. The term “violent jihadist” characterizes jihadists who have made the jump to illegally supporting, plotting, or directly engaging in violent terrorist activity.”
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