It is unprecedented in American counter terrorism annals: in one day the nation was dealing with three separate Jihadist plots to blow up civilian and other targets inside the Homeland. Although the cases were addressed at different time periods by the FBI and other agencies, nevertheless, the thickening web of Terror attempts breached the crossing line of US national security.
This week, authorities revealed three conspiracies by American Jihadists: Michael C. Finton, a 29-year-old man who wished to follow the steps of American-born Taliban John Walker Lindh, was arrested after trying to detonate what he thought was a bomb inside a van outside a federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian national was arrested after placing what he believed was a bomb at a downtown Dallas skyscraper. But perhaps the most troubling case is of Afghan-born Najibullah Zazi who set up shop in suburban Denver, scouting the Web and visiting beauty supply stores in a hunt for chemicals needed to build bombs for Al Qaeda. Sources called the alleged plot one of the most significant terror threats to the U.S. since 9-11. Add to the list the North Carolina Jihad cell, led by Saifullah Boyd, which was planning on attacking civilian and military targets across the country. The immediate question raised by an increasingly worried public is about the connection between all these terror cases: are they all connected? While law enforcement and certainly judicial authorities proceed in a bottom up reasoning, that is to build the case for a global connection between all what is happening with the help of legal evidence, analysts in the field of counter terrorism and conflict are already realizing the meaning of what is happening inside America.
In my book Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America (2005-2006) I clearly projected that Jihadists, individuals and cells will be mushrooming and expanding inside the United States within few years from then and that they will precisely do what they are trying to do now. I have also projected how large they will become, with time. It was a simple deduction: if the Government doesn’t counter this ideological growth, Jihadists will keep coming. And in fact they kept coming, spreading crossing the barriers of ethnicities, races, nationalities and geographical frontiers. The Jihadists committed to harm the US, and based inside our borders, are now by the hundreds.
When I suggested this fact on CNN in 2006, and reiterated it on Oprah’s show so that the public realizes what is to come, I raised a few eyes brows. Now unfortunately, we are meeting the cells of Jihadism in our cities and little towns, and sadly the expectation is that we will see more, and we may unfortunately not be able to stop them all from reaching their goals. The North Carolina cell, the New York subway plot, the Dallas attempt, the Illinois case, added to the previous cases of the shooting of a soldier in Arkansas, the precedent New York cells, Georgia’s young Jihadists, all the way back to the infamous Virginia paintball network, if anything gives us the genome of what is morphing inside the country -- a vast body of dispersed cells with at least one binding force -- the Jihadi ideology. The question thus is to find out who is propagating the doctrines of Jihadism: who is funding it; who is protecting the indoctrination operation which leads naturally to the rise of homegrown or foreign linked, lone wolves or packs of Jihadists, Terrorists. That is the real question: where is the factory? What should the US Government do? Well, it must first of all come to the front of the threat and lead the nation against it. This is not a matter of only local police or law enforcement efforts. President Obama and Congressional leaders from both parties must give this spreading plague a top priority: for if one of these groups is successful, our national economy will crumble again, or at least will be wounded even more severely, let alone the human consequences of terror. Americans are watching with great concerns, these terror plots being revealed. They expect their elected officials to address these fears before the worse happens.
Dr Walid Phares is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad and the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Dr Phares is an advisor to the US House Caucus on Counter Terrorism