Jan 4 2010
Barack Hussein Obama’s first year in office will be remembered for a sharp increase in terrorist activity on American soil. Out of 32 terrorism-related events that have occurred on these shores since 9/11, TWELVE of them took place in 2009. 2010 looks to be even busier.
When analysts tally these events, they refer to anything from a disrupted plot to U.S. citizens traveling abroad to seek terrorism training or a lone gunman running amok in the U.S. And by the calculations of Rand Corp. expert Brian Jenkins, more terrorist threats were uncovered in the U.S. in 2009 than in any year since 2001.
Some of the more noteworthy events of 2009:
• In January, Bryant Neal Vinas, a Long Island, New York, convert to Islam, pleaded guilty to helping al-Qaeda in a plot to blow up a train in Penn Station.
• In late 2008, Shirwa Ahmed, a Somali-American college student from Minneapolis, became the first American suicide bomber on record when he killed 29 people in an attack in Somalia. Earlier in the year, the FBI revealed that at least 20 Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area had traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabab, a radical militia tied to al-Qaeda. Five Somali-Americans are believed to have died in fighting there this year, and Somali officials say at least one more unnamed U.S. citizen has become a suicide bomber for al-Shabab.
• In June, Abdulhakim Muhammad, an Arkansas convert to Islam, was accused of killing one soldier and wounding another in an attack at a military-recruitment center in Little Rock.
• In September, Michael Finton, an Illinois man who converted to Islam in prison, was accused of trying to blow up a federal building in Springfield.
• In October, Chicago businessman David Coleman Headley was arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper that had published controversial cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. (Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian resident of Chicago was also arrested in connection with the same plot.) Headley was later additionally charged with abetting the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008.
• In November, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrants, who had grown up in the U.S., was accused of going on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding 30.
• Also in November, eight Somali-American men from Minnesota were charged with terrorism-related counts involving al-Shabab. Six other had been charged previously. Most of the men were charged in absentia because they remain in Somalia, along with dozens of Somali Americans who are believed to have joined the al-Qaeda-linked militia.
• And earlier this month, five men from the Washington area were detained in Pakistan, where local officials say they had been trying to join the fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Ramy Zamzam, said to be the leader of the group, is a Howard University dental student; two others are sons of businessmen.
• Some other cases involve legal residents who are not U.S. citizens, like Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan suspect arrested in Denver and charged with a plot to bomb targets in New York City, and Jordanian Hosam Smadi, arrested in Dallas and accused of trying blow up a skyscraper.
Terrorism experts warn that some American Muslims will continue to succumb to extremist calls for holy war against their own country. Some will be inflamed by the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Extremists use U.S. foreign policy as a recruitment tool.
Jenkins suggests there may also be a generational conflict at work. He points out that many of the American Muslims accused of terrorism this year are young men who “would have been at a very impressionable age when 9/11 happened.” “Some would have been inspired by it and caught up in the jihadist narrative.”
If 2009 alerted Americans to the domestic-terror threat, it’s a safe bet that there will be more reminders of the danger in 2010. LIVE LEAK
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