Before the fact: Homegrown terrorism in the post-9/11 world

A report released this week by a Washington think tank called The Bipartisan Policy Center says that, nearly a decade after foreign terrorists attacked America, today’s biggest threat comes from would-be killers right here at home.

Terrorism is intrinsically difficult to combat; mistakes are inevitable. One of the terms sometimes used to describe that effort is  “preemptive prosecution,”  a strategy where the government brings terrorism-related charges against people who have not committed terrorist acts at the time of their arrest. Critics complain the cases often involve entrapment, by government informants who have been planted among the suspects. They’re arrested for what law enforcement believes they will do — not for what they’ve done.

In some cases, preemptive prosecution has worked very well. For example, the FBI caught Najibulla Zazi before he was able to bomb New York City subways. He confessed and cooperated with the FBI to bring in his co-conspirators. But as you might expect, other cases — perhaps hundreds of them — are not nearly as clear.

Need to Know brings you one of those prosecutions: the case of the Fort Dix Five. Five young men were arrested, convicted, and jailed for plotting an attack on the military base at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The case represents a good example of how American law enforcement operates in the post 9/11 world.

 
SUGGESTED STORIES

Comments

  • Steven

    Investigate the sister.

  • Whistling_elk

    I think there’s a real need to investigate incidences and people such as these, but my gut feeling is that they’re a bunch of young male wannabees who probably wouldn’t actually follow-through.

  • Tuvatune

    Perhaps the preemptive division could take every kindegarten boy in the nation to a shoot ‘em up action movie and video tape them later answering the question, “did you think it was cool?” Then offer to sell them the same type of gun for a quarter. And arrest and jail all of those who bought guns. Then they could be promoted by their record of jailing tens of thousands of wannabe terrorists.

    The one most important question not answered by your report is … Were these guys under adult supervision? Someone who would know a terrorist from a pansy.

    14 Americans killed the past 9 years in the USA by homegrown terrorists.? I seriously doubt that 13 of those deaths by a deranged soldier with PTSD, masquerading as a psychiatrist counts.

    And as far the success of the pre-emptive strike force in stopping the NYC SUV bomber … They really need adult supervision.

  • Tuvatune

    Perhaps the preemptive division could take every kindegarten boy in the nation to a shoot ‘em up action movie and video tape them later answering the question, “did you think it was cool?” Then offer to sell them the same type of gun for a quarter. And arrest and jail all of those who bought guns. Then they could be promoted by their record of jailing tens of thousands of wannabe terrorists.

    The one most important question not answered by your report is … Were these guys under adult supervision? Someone who would know a terrorist from a pansy.

    14 Americans killed the past 9 years in the USA by homegrown terrorists.? I seriously doubt that 13 of those deaths by a deranged soldier with PTSD, masquerading as a psychiatrist counts.

    And as far the success of the pre-emptive strike force in stopping the NYC SUV bomber … They really need adult supervision.

  • Mharpel48

    Why wasn’t the madman who wanted to burn the Koran on Sept. 11th arrested as prevention of terrorism?? Isn’t he a terrorist? Or at least, wouldn’t he be someone who could provoke terrorism? He certainly stated his intention even more succinctly more clearly than the Fort Dix five -

  • Paul

    Wow! I think that was the most morally offensive bit of TV I’ve ever seen. Within a 20 second stretch Brancaccio suggested a moral equivalence between burning a book and murdering a human being, and then Rick Nelson of CSIS suggested that the government had a role in “controlling the dialogue”.

  • Garyogletree

    I suspect a couple guys with adolescent fantasies were exploited by the FBI infiltrators. This has happened before An RCMP infiltrator was the biggest advocate of violence within Quebec’s FLQ. I think it would have been better had the FBI watched these guys until it was clear more than just talk was going on. Those FBI gun prices screamed “Buy low, sell high” and smell like entrapment. These guys have 2nd Amendment rights like anyone else. If they were serious they would have bought the 60 cal machine gun, which was priced to sell. I have tolerance for jihad or sharia, but we can’t let emotion trump a lack of overwhelming evidence. That’s the road to totalitarianism.

  • Garyogletree

    Correction: should be I have no tolerance for jihad or sharia..