September’s Terror Threat Snapshot: Homegrown Islamist Extremism
The following article is the latest in a series of Terror Threat Snapshot reports focusing on the ongoing terror threat facing the nation and our Western allies.
By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has released his monthly Terror Threat Snapshot for September 2016. The current edition paints an ominous backdrop for one of the worst years on record for homegrown Islamist extremism.
166 Homegrown Terror Plots; 26 Arrests
According to the snapshot, FBI Director James Comey estimates that around 80 percent of his Bureau’s 1,000-plus active homegrown terrorist investigations can be traced to ISIS, and he calls that statistic “the greatest threat to the physical safety of Americans today.” Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 166 homegrown terror plots were uncovered in the United States; nearly 90 percent of U.S.-based ISIS supporters are male and close to 35 percent of them are recent converts to Islam.
The Terror Threat Snapshot states that 26 people have been arrested in 13 states so far in 2016. The offenses – all related to ISIS – include weapons charges, offering financial support to the Islamic State and actual plots to attack U.S. targets and citizens. McCaul’s snapshot also points out 47 ISIS-linked plots to attack towns and cities in Europe, and 28 attacks targeting Westerners outside of the U.S. and Europe.
Recent ISIS-Related Arrests in the United States
Here is a breakdown of the recent major arrests, according to the snapshot:
Minnesota: U.S. citizen and Minneapolis resident Mohamed Amiin Ali Roble, 20, was charged for his role in a terror network that was dispatching its members to Syria in order to join ISIS.
North Carolina: 35-year-old U.S. citizen, Erick Jamal Hendricks of Charlotte, was arrested after attempting to hire a cell of terror operatives with a goal to ultimately launch attacks within the United States. Hendricks had also previously reached out – via social media – to the ISIS-linked group that targeted a cartoon competition in Garland, Texas in 2015.
Virginia: Nicholas Young, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen from Fairfax, Virginia, and a police officer for the Washington Metro Transit Police, was arrested for ISIS-related charges. Young is the first uniformed police officer in the U.S. ever charged with an ISIS-linked offense.
Michigan: Sebastian Gregorson, a U.S. citizen who recently converted to Islam, was arrested in Detroit for “possessing a destructive device and acquiring explosive materials without a license.” Gregorson is alleged to be a solid ISIS support and also possessed a CD entitled “Anwar al Awlaki” who was one of al-Qaida’s major recruiters.
Guantanamo Bay Detainees Released – Including Bin Laden’s Bodyguards
September’s Terror Threat Snapshot also states that a recent assessment performed by the Director of National Intelligence revealed that 30 percent of released Guantanamo Bay detainees have either returned to or are suspected of returning to jihadist activity. According to the snapshot, the Department of Defense announced that 15 detainees were handed over to the government of the United Arab Emirates. Of those 15, some were explosive experts, some were trained al-Qaida fighters and at least two of them were employed as Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguards.
Other highlights of this month’s Terror Threat Snapshot include the ongoing Iranian terror threat, foreign fighter statistics and a full report of foreign Jihadist networks and safe havens.