Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Radicalized Overseas and Coming Home

How to combat the threat of domestic terrorism waged by Americans trained amid Middle Eastern conflict

By Mitchell D. Silber, WSJ
July 7, 2014 7:48 p.m. ET

'I'll see you in New York." Those were Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's parting words to his U.S. captors in 2009 when he was handed over to the Iraqi government, which subsequently released him. Now, as the extremist group he leads, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, expands the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, concerns have grown that he intends to launch attacks on U.S. soil. Local and federal counterterrorism officials would be wise to take this threat seriously.

Even before ISIS's recent territorial gains, Jeh Johnson, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, pointed out in his first policy address in February how individuals from North America and Europe were heading to war-torn Syria where "they will encounter radical, extremist influences" and "possibly return to their home countries with the intent to do harm."

Like it or not, local law enforcement is on the front lines of this counterterrorism fight. While I was the director of intelligence analysis at the New York Police Department from 2007-12, we identified and thwarted a number of individuals from the greater metropolitan area who sought to train and fight in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. Our fear was that if we missed outbound aspiring jihadists they would return home to carry out attacks—like the ones that hit London when two waves of homegrown British suicide bombers were launched in July 2005, one of which killed 52 people.

(More here.)

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