Myth of ‘Homegrown’ Terrorists?

Posted on January 3, 2011


If U.S. officials and the media can be believed, America faces an epidemic of “homegrown” terrorism. Yet from U.S. Army shooter Nidal Hasan to would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad to so-called Christmas tree bomber Mohamed Mohamud, all of these mass murderers or potential mass murderers believed they were working on behalf of a foreign organization.

In the cases of both Mohamud and would-be Baltimore bomber Antonio Martinez, FBI officers caught the suspects by presenting themselves as members of an international terror network, not a group of Americans who had decided on their own to kill fellow citizens. “In the Portland plot, Mohamud believed he was receiving help from a larger ring of jihadists as he communicated with undercover federal agents,” a law enforcement official told the Associated Press, and Martinez’s FBI handler claimed to be “an Afghani brother.”

Authorities arrested Mohamud, a Somali-born naturalized American citizen, in Portland, Oregon, at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in late November. He thought he was setting off explosives in his van, and hoped to kill hundreds of celebrants. In fact, the explosives were duds, provided by the FBI.

As the AP reported, a law-enforcement official told journalists that “Mohamud hatched the plan on his own and without any instruction from a foreign terrorist organization, and he planned the details, including where to park the van for the maximum number of casualties.”

Yet Mohamud had come to the attention of the Bureau when he was found to be in e-mail contact with an associate in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region. — The Feds thought he was trying to go there to train for jihad.

Indeed, the very success of these FBI sting operations demonstrates that the “homegrown terrorist” meme is often a myth. All these men, and scores more like them, think of themselves as members of a jihadi army waging war against the United States. It is very hard to find a case of an American citizen who became radicalized by other Americans, and then tried to unleash violence in America.

MORE…  By Michael Ledeen