SPLC Intelligence Report: Jihadists Seek to Radicalize U.S. Muslims; Plots on the Rise
Ten years after 9/11, jihadist attacks are increasingly being plotted by Muslims radicalized in the U.S. as opposed to Al Qaeda operatives and others based overseas, according to the Fall 2011 issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, released today.
The number of these conspiracies and lone-wolf attacks has increased dramatically over the past two years. “Homegrown” jihadists have been responsible for more than 30 terrorist plots in the U.S. since 9/11 – and about half of those have occurred since May 2009. All but a few of the plots have been foiled by law enforcement officials, often with tips from the Muslim community. Most of those arrested were influenced by English-language jihadist websites that encourage violence in pursuit of a global caliphate ruled by Islamic fundamentalists.
Anti-Muslim extremism is also rising, creating grave risks of its own – as shown by the horrific terrorist attacks in Norway that killed 77 people, mostly teenagers, on July 22. The influence of demonizing rhetoric is examined in an article about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer whose 1,500-page manifesto cited the words of U.S.-based anti-Muslim activists dozens of times.
“Homegrown Islamist extremists represent a real and significant threat to the country,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report. “But we cannot allow the 10th anniversary of the 2001 attacks to become a platform to spread anti-Muslim rhetoric that encourages hate and violence. Islamist terrorists do not represent the millions of peaceful Muslims in the U.S. – just as Anders Breivik does not represent mainstream Christianity.”
In a related article, the Intelligence Report describes how several U.S. extremist groups that have in the past espoused anti-immigrant or anti-LGBT messages are now increasingly spreading anti-Muslim propaganda. For example, the anti-LGBT Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., garnered worldwide attention after its leader, pastor Terry Jones, threatened to burn a Koran last year. When he fulfilled that threat this spring, riots erupted in Afghanistan, killing 20 people.
The Intelligence Report also examines ACT! for America, a group reportedly founded to combat “radical” Islam but whose founder has repeatedly conflated all Muslims with terrorists.
“The tragedy in Norway is a devastating reminder of the threat posed by extremists driven by anti-Muslim rhetoric,” Potok said. “We cannot afford to ignore this threat.”
The SPLC previously reported that the Department of Homeland Security has drastically cut the resources it devotes to investigating non-Islamic domestic extremists. The SPLC has urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reassess the resources dedicated to this threat.