Sense of Deception

‘Homegrown’ Terrorism Threat Grew in Past Year, Napolitano Says


By Jeff Bliss

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the threat of “homegrown” terrorism increased during the past year and more U.S. citizens or legal residents are “becoming radicalized to the point of violence.”

Napolitano, speaking yesterday during a panel discussion at a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, said the U.S. doesn’t have a co-ordinated plan for stopping the spread of militancy.

“We really don’t have a very good handle on how you prevent someone from becoming a violent extremist,” she said. Napolitano recommended studying efforts in foreign countries and states such as Minnesota to expand contacts with Muslim and immigrant communities.

Several incidents last year underscored the influence of militant ideas among some U.S. citizens. Military officials have charged Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan with killing 13 and injuring 43 in a Nov. 5 shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas.

Before the shootings, U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Hasan and a Muslim religious leader in Yemen known for his anti-American views. No action was taken against Hasan because it was determined he didn’t pose a threat, officials have said.

About 20 men, all but one of Somali descent, traveled from the Minneapolis area to Somalia between September 2007 and October 2009 to train with al-Shabaab, a militant group with links to al-Qaeda.

Seeking Training

On Dec. 9, Pakistani authorities arrested five northern Virginia men in Sargodha, a city in Punjab, on the suspicion of seeking training as jihadist guerillas.

The panel included White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who discussed the importance of providing state and local officials with access to information about terrorist threats.

Ridge said the country’s reaction to the spread of swine flu, or H1N1, showed the challenges in dealing with biological emergencies, including a threat of biological terrorism.

Flu-vaccine shortages also underscored the need to boost manufacturing capacity and improve the system for distributing the shots, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington

Last Updated: February 22, 2010 00:00 EST


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