2009: Tipping Point for Domestic Terror?

This past year is simply without precedent in terms of the number of terror plots and cells exposed and disrupted. For those of us who closely monitor terrorism trends and have consistently warned of the escalating pace of Islamic radicalization -- only to be ignored and attacked by Islamic apologists and their allies -- 2009 has proven to be a cold and uncomfortable vindication of our concerns. As we move into a new year, we very well may look back at this past year as a tipping point for domestic terror.

The year began with bad harbingers with the November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai -- demonstrating the success of a new terror tactic, swarm attacks -- and the beginnings of a nationwide investigation here at home into the operations of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali al-Shabaab networks (after Shirwa Ahmed, a Minneapolis resident, conducted a suicide bombing in Somalia and became the first ever successful American suicide bomber). That investigation expanded after news of the disappearance of at least a dozen young Somali-American men armed with U.S. passports who turned up in Somalia training with al-Shabaab. The fear remains that some of these individuals may return home determined to wage jihad on these shores.

What 2009 has demonstrated is that the pace and scope of radicalization in the American Islamic community have increased dramatically. From the attempted bombing of Jewish centers in the Bronx in June, to the indictment of seven North Carolina men determined to wage “violent jihad” in July, and most recently to the five Muslim-American men intent on waging jihad who were arrested in Pakistan in November, we see that domestic terror plots are in full bloom. With the increased extremist rhetoric being preached in American mosques, there is no reason to believe that this radicalization and jihadization will diminish in 2010.

This past year also saw two deadly “lone wolf” attacks directed at our military, demonstrating both the external and internal domestic terror threat to our armed forces. In June, Muslim convert Abdulhakim Muhammad shot two soldiers standing outside a Little Rock Army recruiting center, killing Pvt. William Andrew Long, who had just graduated from basic training. Muhammad later defending the attack in an interview with the Associated Press, saying that it was “an act, for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on U.S. military.” And in November, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan entered the Soldier Readiness Center at Ft. Hood and opened fire, killing fourteen and wounding nearly three dozen others.