“We believe the threat we face in the near term is less than that currently confronting our European allies,” Charles Allen, assistant homeland security secretary for intelligence and analysis, told Congress March 14. “But we are concerned that radicalization will continue to expand within the United States over the long term.” The government has identified only isolated pockets of homegrown extremists, mostly involved in what he called “aspirational plotting. ” Unlike their European counterparts, Allen said, those groups appear to lack direct ties to al-Qaeda. “But we remain concerned that radicalization will eventually spawn operational attacks in the homeland if we do not gain deeper insights into the phenomenon and actively work to deter it,” he said.
The hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee follows a Homeland Security advisory report warning that although US Muslims are better educated, more affluent and less alienated than Europe’s, the United States is “not immunized against the challenge” of violent extremism. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff cited the story of Adam Gadahn, a California-born convert to Islam who works as Osama bin Laden’s top propagandist, as one example of homegrown extremism. (Newsday, March 15)
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