U.S. face most serious terror threat since the 9/11 attacks. Homegrown terrorist are greatest concern
Foreign terrorist organizations exploiting the internet to inspire, enable, or direct homegrown terrorists make the U.S. face one if not the most serious terror threat environments since the 9/11 attacks. An updated National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin shows that Americans are at risk of terrorist attack both in their country as if they are travelling.
Since 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has used the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin to highlight the continuing threat from homegrown terrorists, many of whom are inspired online to violence by foreign terrorist organizations. DHS says that as the United States is engaged in a generational fight against terrorists, ‘who seek to attack the American people, our country, and our way of life.’
Homegrown terrorists are the main concern
The updated Bulletin, issued on May 15 and set to expire only on November 15, notes that Americans face one of the most serious terror threat environments since the 9/11 attacks ‘as foreign terrorist organizations continue to exploit the Internet to inspire, enable, or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts.’ The document adds that homegrown terror suspects are increasingly relying on technology, such as end-to-end encrypted social media applications, to avoid detection. Moreover, the DHS says, terrorist groups are urging recruits to adopt easy-to-use tools to target public places and events. Specific attack tactics have included the use of vehicle ramming, small arms, straight-edged blades or knives, and homemade explosives, as well as other acts such as taking hostages.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Americans will continue to face a multi-faceted threat environmen as the country ‘steps up efforts to disrupt and defeat terrorist groups overseas.’ One of the biggest risks is posed by homegrown terrorists inside the United States who might be encouraged to carry out acts of violence, as terrorist groups outside the U.S. are distrupted.
“Additionally, foreign terrorist fighters, who have acquired training and battle-tested terrorism experience, are likely to flee from terrorist-controlled territories with a desire to conduct attacks elsewhere, including the United States. Some of these individuals may be U.S. citizens or citizens of other nations attempting to travel to the United States on visas, from visa-waiver countries, with the aim of attacking the homeland or inciting others within our borders to conduct attacks,” the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin reads.
What the DHS and FBI are doing
Americans should get used to observe law enforcement and security activity in and around public places and events, as the terrorist threat looms, the Bulletin notes. Regarding the domestic counterterrorism efforts, the DHS says it’s taking steps to address the threat from foreign terrorist fighters who have traveled or attempt to travel to the United States, including working closely with the FBI and Intelligence partners to identify U.S. persons who left the country to join terrorist groups, as well as putting in place enhanced screening and vetting measures to detect travelers with potential terrorist connections.
“More broadly, we remain committed to preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or identity, and we will seek justice against the perpetrators of such acts,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security adds.
Americans urged to travel but remain vigilant
The updated National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin asks Americans to be prepared for security aqnd plan ahead, as they advice citizens to anticipate delays and restrictions on items around populated places and at events.
Recently the Department of State alerted U.S. citizens to the continued threat of terrorist attacks throughout Europe. In the travel alert that is set to expire only in September, Americans are warned that widely-reported incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom demonstrate that the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe.
“We urge Americans to continue to travel, attend public events, and freely associate with others but remain vigilant and aware of surroundings,” the U.S. Government conveyed.
Terrorist attacks in the past year in the U.S.
At least five attacks in the past year were linked to terrorist organisations or ideology and led to 51 people dying, including the attackers.
The first of the attacks took place on January 7, 2016, when Edward Archer shot at a police officer in his cruiser multiple times, injuring him in the process. The assailant later pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, citing it as his reason for the attack.
The bloodiest attack took place on June 12, 2016, when 49 people were killed and 53 were injured in a terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The sole suspect behind the slaughter was identified as Omar Mateen, an American-born citizen with Afghan immigrant parents who was later killed.
On a 9-1-1 call shortly after the shooting began, Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said the shooting was “triggered” by the U.S. killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq the previous month. He later told a negotiator he was “out here right now” because of the American-led interventions in Iraq and in Syria, and that the negotiator should tell the United States to stop bombing ISIL.
The CIA found no no links between ISIL and Mateen.
On September 17, 2016 ten people were injured in a mass stabbing that occurred at the Crossroads Center shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The attacker, Dahir A. Adan, was shot dead inside the mall by an off-duty law enforcement officer. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq media agency, claiming Adan “was a soldier of the Islamic State.”
At the same time, four bombings or bombing attempts occurred in the New York metropolitan area, specifically in Seaside Park, New Jersey; Manhattan, New York; and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Thirty-one civilians were injured in one of the bombings. Ahmad Khan Rahimi was identified as a suspect in all of the incidents and apprehended on September 19 in Linden, New Jersey, after a shootout that injured three police officers.
Authorities say Rahami was not part of a terrorist cell, but was motivated and inspired by the extremist Islamic ideology espoused by al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda chief propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.
On November 28, 2016, Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove a Honda Civic into the courtyard, deliberately striking several pedestrians at Ohio State University (OSU)’s Watts Hall in Columbus, Ohio. As people rushed in to help the injured, the assailant got out of the car, armed with a butcher knife, “let out a war cry” according to one witness, and began attacking students.
Artan was shot and killed by the first responding police officer, and 11 people were hospitalized for injuries. According to authorities, Artan was inspired by terrorist propaganda from the Islamic State and radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.