In recent weeks, a drumbeat of warnings has sounded about the increased risk to the U.S. homeland from "homegrown terrorism." A recent Congressional Research Service report found that since May 2009, arrests were made in 19 plots by U.S. residents, compared to just 21 plots from September 2001 to May 2009. Sixty-three U.S. citizens have either been charged with or convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States just since 2009. Last Wednesday, during the latest in a series of hearings he's held on homegrown terrorism, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., observed that "there has been a dramatic increase in the pace of homegrown and foreign-based incidents" and that "more and more Americans are being recruited and are joining the leadership ranks of al-Qaida and its affiliated groups."
This week we would like National Journal's expert bloggers to consider why the terrorist threat from within has grown so dramatically, and what can realistically be done to counter the threat. Has the conventional wisdom that U.S. Muslims were better assimilated and thus less prone to radicalization proven false? Has President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world failed, and if so, why? Does the evolution make an attack on the homeland, perhaps smaller than 9/11 and using conventional weapons such as car bombs and improvised explosive devices, more likely?
What role do al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen and Somalia play in this evolving threat? Are radical, English-speaking imams and propagandists such as Anwar al-Aulaqi and Adam Gadahn largely to blame, and if so, what can and should be done to blunt their impact? Has the controversy over the proposed Park51 Islamic center near Ground Zero, and the anti-Muslim backlash that has ensued, made further radicalization of Muslims in America more likely? Finally, what steps can the United States take to become more resilient in the event of a terrorist attack, especially given the criticism Obama drew from the right for suggesting that the country would come through another attack even stronger?