Police Examine Islamist Terror Made in the U.S.A.

Arab-Americans slam a report on U.S. Islamic terrorism released by police in New York City, which is home to thousands of Israeli and other Jews.

Contact Editor
Hana Levi Julian,

A study released this week by the New York Police Department raised alarm bells in both mainstream American and Arab-American communities, albeit for different reasons.


The 90-page report, Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat, was meant to educate policymakers and law enforcement officials throughout the U.S. about the factors that spawn terrorism at home.


“While the threat from overseas remains, many of the terrorist attacks or thwarted plots against cities in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States have been conceptualized and planned by local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence,” noted the report. “The majority of these individuals began as ‘unremarkable’ – they had ‘unremarkable’ jobs, had lived ‘unremarkable’ lives and had little, if any criminal history. The recently thwarted plot by homegrown jihadists, in May 2007, against Fort Dix in New Jersey, only underscores the seriousness of this emerging threat,” it said.


Police analysts identified four steps in the process that inspires an ordinary person with an ordinary job to become Muslim jihad operative:

  • Pre-radicalization, which defines a person’s life before he sets forth on the journey to become a terrorist;
  • Self-identification, in which a person begins to actively question their lifestyle and identity and explore the beliefs of radical Islam;
  • Indoctrination, in which leaders of militant Islamic movements train the individual in the complexities of the religious beliefs as well as the actions to carry them out; and
  • Jihadization, when terrorist beliefs and training are translated into action.


The report noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and European authorities have thwarted several terrorist plots since the massive attack on America by the international al Qaeda terrorist organization on September 11, 2001. Eleven cases from the past six years were analyzed as part of the process used to dissect the development of “homegrown” terrorists.


At least 25 Muslim terrorist cells have been identified in the Northeastern part of the country, according to the report, especially in New Jersey and New York, where the highest population of Jews outside of Israel make their homes. Thousands of Israelis émigrés from the Jewish State make their homes there, as do other Jews from all over the world. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks and for months thereafter, Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey implemented special security measures.  Security was especially high in areas with a high concentration of Jewish community institutions such as synagogues, yeshivot and kosher restaurants.


The New York police report added that the clusters are compromised of homegrown terrorists without a high profile and that the groups are a serious threat to the safety of Americans. Mosques, cafes and prisons were cited as "incubators" for radicals.


"Any one of those clusters may be capable of carrying out a terrorist action that will result in fatalities," Rand Corporation terrorism expert Brian Jenkins told ABC News. "The threat is real; this is not some bogey man we are creating here. There are individuals who are proselytizing, inciting angry young men to go down this path," he said.



Reactions to the report were swift and severe.


The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee slammed the document, with director Kareem Shora calling it "un-American” and saying it “goes against everything for which we stand."


The Council on American-Islamic Relations warned that the report could generate an atmosphere of “sweeping generalizations” that would prompt other Americans to become suspicious of any Muslim in their midst. Council board chairman Parvez Ahmed said the report pointed to signs of positive change, such as giving up smoking, drinking and gambling, as red flags in the process of radicalization.


Ahmed added that the report implied that religious Muslim behavior was a strong formula that signaled a transformation into radical attitudes.


“Is Islamic attire or giving up bad habits, which is something recommended by leaders of all faiths, now to be regarded as suspicious behavior?” he asked.


New York Civil Liberties Union spokesman Christopher Dunn had similar concerns, saying the report cast the taint of terrorism over all Muslims.


Dunn also warned that the report might discourage law-abiding Islamic believers from cooperating with authorities when the chips are down.