Radicalized U.S. citizens pose greatest threat

Tue., Feb. 28, 2017    

Michael Morell and Robert Pape's Op-Ed in the Washington Post draws on CPOST's latest report to highlight the true terror threat to the United States.

“The first point from the CPOST analysis that we would highlight at our hypothetical NSC meeting would be that the greatest terrorist threat comes from our own citizens who have been radicalized by the Islamic State’s recruiting narrative. Of those studied, 81 percent are U.S. citizens, with 78 percent of them born in the United States. Another 11 percent are green-card holders — permanent residents. Only 8 percent are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

"The judgment that the greatest terrorist threat to the United States now comes from homegrown jihadists is not new. It is a point that many terrorism experts have made over the past several years. Senior officials from the National Counterterrorism Center have repeatedly made this observation in congressional testimonies. The data from CPOST drive this point home.

"Why is the terrorist threat not greater from foreign nationals traveling to the United States? The answer is that, since 9/11, the homeland and national security agencies have worked diligently to keep terrorists out of the United States. The extreme vetting that Trump talks about is already occurring. The travel ban would do little to further mitigate the threat.”

The Post editorial board followed up in a piece titled "The evidence backing Trump’s travel ban simply isn’t there"

“Fair enough. Fortuitously, a former top CIA official, Michael Morell, who twice served as the agency’s acting director, and an intelligence scholar, Robert Pape, weighed in days later with a conclusion widely shared in the U.S. intelligence community: that the most serious terrorist peril to America is home-grown, from U.S. citizens who have been radicalized by Islamic State propaganda. (Similarly, most of the bloodiest terror attacks in Europe, including the 2015 carnage in Paris, were carried out by individuals born in Europe, not the Mideast.)

"Citing comprehensive research by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, a program associated with the University of Chicago, Mr. Morell and Mr. Pape pointed out that of 125 terrorists in the past three years who had either been indicted for crimes tied to the Islamic State or died before they could be indicted, more than 80 percent were U.S. citizens; of them, more than three-quarters were born in the United States. Of the handful who remained, just over one-third were from the seven countries singled out by Mr. Trump’s executive order.”