Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11

Muslim-American Terrorism Down in 2011

 

Twenty Muslim-Americans were indicted for violent terrorist plots in 2011, down from 26

the year before, bringing the total since 9/11 to 193, or just under 20 per year (see Figure

1). This number is not negligible – small numbers of Muslim-Americans continue to

radicalize each year and plot violence.  However, the rate of radicalization is far less

than many feared in the aftermath of 9/11. In early 2003, for example, Robert Mueller,

director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told Congress that “FBI investigations have

revealed militant Islamics [sic] in the US. We strongly suspect that several hundred of these

extremists are linked to al-Qaeda.”1 Fortunately, we have not seen violence on this

scale.  The scale of homegrown Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 does not appear to have

corroborated the warnings issued by government officials early in the year. In March 2011, Mueller testified to Congress that this threat had become even more complex and difficult to combat, as “we are seeing an increase in the sources of terrorism, a wider array of terrorist targets, and an evolution in terrorist tactics and means of communication.”2 Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, echoed Mueller’s concern in her 2011 “State

of America’s Homeland Security Address”: “the terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years –and continues to evolve – so that, in some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks.”3 Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security in the U.S. House of Representatives, held four earings

in 2011 to alert Americans to the “the extent of Muslim-American radicalization by al-Qaeda

in their communities today and how terrible it is, the impact it has on families, how extensive

it is, and also that the main victims of this are Muslim-Americans themselves.”4