Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Napolitano's Update on Homegrown Terrorist Threat

Reach the whole testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security here.
....Over the past two years, we have seen the rise of a number of terrorist groups inspired by al-Qaeda ideology – including (but not limited to) al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) from Yemen, al-Shabaab from Somalia, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – that are placing a growing emphasis on recruiting individuals who are either Westerners or have connections to the West, but who do not have strong links to terrorist groups, and are thus more difficult for authorities to identify. We saw this, for instance, in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of attempting to detonate explosives aboard a Detroit-bound plane on December 25, 2009; and Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square in May of last year. These groups are also trying to inspire individuals in the West to launch their own, smaller-scale attacks, which require less of the advanced planning or coordination that would typically raise red flags. The logic supporting these kinds of terrorist plots is simple: They present fewer opportunities for disruption by intelligence or law enforcement than more elaborate, larger-scale plots by groups of foreign-based terrorists.

This threat of homegrown violent extremism fundamentally changes who is most often in the best position to spot terrorist activity, investigate, and respond. More and more, state, local, and tribal front-line law enforcement officers are most likely to notice the first signs of terrorist activity. This has profound implications for how we go about securing our country against the terrorist threat, and requires a new kind of security architecture that complements the structure we have already built to protect America from threats coming from abroad.