‘Battlefield’ Today: Congress unveils 53 'Jihadist' plots since 9/11

The sketch shows Faisal Shahzad (C)  in court on October 5, 2010 in New York (AFP Photo / Christine Cornell)
US is facing a spike in homegrown jihadist-inspired terrorist activity, research by Congress says. It seems that a new bill that allows for Americans to be held for terrorism-related charges and detained without trial will not go to waste.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, released November 15, has criticized President Obama’s domestic Countering Violent Extremism strategy (CVE) saying “the Administration’s CVE strategy lacks specifics” including only “general philosophical statements and the insistence that the strategy does not center solely around fighting one particular radical ideology.”

As of December 3, American counter-terrorist strategy is very specific, targeting Americans with all available military might. Under the new bill, Americans can be arrested, detained, tortured and interrogated without charge or trial. The bill was passed through the Senate on December with overwhelming support from 93 per cent of lawmakers.

The report, largely overlooked by the media, seems to have conveniently been conducted prior to the vote for the new legislation, as if to inspire support. It warns of a “spike” of homegrown terrorist activity in the US.

Altogether since September 11, 2001, CRS estimates that there have been 53 homegrown violent jihadist plots or attacks, with 32 people arrested between 2009 and 2011. Two of those plots resulted in attacks that killed 14 people.

The report titled American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat defines the term “jihadist” as “radicalized individuals using Islam as ideological and/or religious justification for their belief in the establishment of global caliphate,” a jurisdiction governed by a Muslim civil and religious leader known as a caliph.

According to CRS most of the 2009-2011 homegrown plots “likely reflect a trend in jihadist terrorist activity away from schemes directed by core members of significant terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.”

This means homegrown violent jihadists are acting on their own accord, without coordination and support from international terrorist networks. That results in a number of conventional shortcomings, such as lack of “deep understanding of specialized tradecraft such as bomb making.” Financing, training camps and support networks are also unavailable to American jihadists; all of that keeps them from independently engaging in large-scale suicide strikes.

The report says that because of these limitations, homegrown jihadists are likely to turn to violence that requires less preparation, “such as assaults using firearms.” This new strategy pose challenges for law enforcement, intelligence and security officials who detect and investigate terrorist activity in the US.

An airline bombing attempt by Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka “the underwear bomber”, “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, and the perpetrators of the Transatlantic Airlines plot of 2006 are not addressed in the report because it does not study terrorist activity against the US conducted by foreigners, only the “homegrown” variety.