String of terror arrests in US raises discussions of possible increases in homegrown radicalism

Five men in the last five months have been arrested on terror charges in the US. Their efforts to carry out violent jihad plans varied in sophistication, with more serious plots raising questions as to whether a rise in homegrown radicalism may be taking place in America.

“For the most part, these guys are not totally dangerous on their own,” said Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence at Stratfor, a global intelligence company. “The grass routes guys are amateurish and don’t have the ability to do (large scale) damage… when they get dangerous is when they get a trained operational commander who has skills to plan and do surveillance.”

Jena McNeill, policy analyst for homeland security at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, said that while the United States always faces some type of terror threat, the danger of home grown terrorism has not increased.

“I don’t want to downplay the possibility that it could increase, but it is not as bad as Europe,” she said, adding that radical Islam poses a greater danger across the Atlantic than it does in the United States.

Muslim Integration: Challenging Conventional Wisdom in Europe and the United States

As part of its ongoing Transatlantic Dialogue on Terrorism, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC dedicated its seventh meeting in the series to Muslim integration and assimilation. In partnership with the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin, Germany, CSIS hosted a two-day event entitled, “The Transatlantic Dialogue on Muslims in Europe: Dealing with, and Looking Beyond, the Terrorist Threat ” to question and explore many of the conclusions Europeans and Americans have drawn about Muslim communities in their own countries.

As a summary to the meeting, CSIS commissioned six papers by U.S. and European experts on immigration, demographics, and integration policy, in order to further explore the situation facing Muslim communities on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of the papers reveal the sometimes shaky foundations upon which European and U.S. policymakers are crafting integration policies. More importantly, the report also shows that despite efforts to improve the West’s collective understating of Islam and Muslim integration in American and European societies, many countries remain ill-equipped to fully incorporate these growing groups into society at large in terms of economic advancement, social mobility, and political participation. As such, the report highlights some of these shortcomings, puts forth a more accurate picture of European and U.S. Muslim communities, and presents recommendations for improving the status quo.

Muslims in Europe and in the United States. A Transatlantic Comparison

Friday December 15, 2006

Panel One: Consequences of 9/11 on Muslims in Europe and in the United States: Legal and Political Aspects

Chair/Discussant: Louise Richardson, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

  •   Europe: The Consequences of European Security Laws after 9/11 on Muslims in Europe Presenters: Jose Maria Ortuño Aix, University of Barcelona Didier Bigo, Institut d’Études Politiques, Paris
  •   America: The Situation of Immigrant Muslims after the Patriot Act: Legal Ramifications Presenter: Philip B. Heymann, Harvard Law School
  •   The Situation of Arab Muslims and Christians: Political Ramifications Presenter: Wayne Baker, University of Michigan
  • Panel Two: Islam and Muslims in the Western Public Sphere

    Chairs/Discussants: Diana Eck, Harvard University Ali Asani, Harvard University

  •   Europe: Anti-Islamic Discourses in Europe: Agents and Contents Presenter: Yasemin Karakasoglu, University of Bremen
  •   America: Status of Islam in the American Public Sphere after 9/11 Presenter: Emran Qureshi, Harvard University
  • Panel Three: Religious Life of Muslims in the West: Legal and Political Dimensions

    Chair/Discussant: Peter Skerry, Boston College

  •   Europe: Legal Status of Islamic Religious Practices in Europe after 9/11 Presenters: Marcel Maussen, University of Amsterdam Frank Peter, University Viadrina Frankfurt-Oder
  •   America: Religious Practices of American Muslims Presenter: Louise Cainkar, Marquette University
  • Saturday December 16, 2006

    Panel Four: Relations Between the State and Muslims

    Chairs/Discussants: Kishwer, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, John F. Kennedy School of Government Jocelyne Cesari, CNRS-Paris and Harvard University

  •   Europe: Muslims in Europe: Between Secularism and Multiculturalism Presenter: Farhad Khosrokhavar, École des Hautes Études en Sciences, Paris
  •   America: The Debate on Religious Freedom and Civil Liberties after 9/11 Presenter: José Casanova, New School for Social Research
  •   Muslims and American Secularism Presenter: Jane Smith, Hartford Seminary
  • Concluding Round Table

    Chair: Jocelyne Cesari, CNRS-Paris and Harvard University