Homegrown Terrorism Reflects the Changing Tactics of Al-Qaeda

Threats and calls for the killing of Americans landed Adam Yahiye Gadahn on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, and led to a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest. The American al-Qaeda spokesman is not the only one of his kind, however.

Homegrown terrorists—American men and women who have either left the country to join terrorist organizations, or joined others within U.S. borders—have become a growing threat over the past several years.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan who was charged with killing 14 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009 was just one of many. In December five American Muslims were arrested in Sarghoda, Pakistan, for allegedly trying to connect with militants. Just this month, American al-Qaeda suspect Sharif Mobley was arrested in Yemen’s capital of Sana’a along with 11 other al-Qaeda suspects. The recent arrest of the self-proclaimed “Jihad Jane” adds to the list.

The rise of homegrown terrorists can be partly attributed to the constant access to extremist videos and materials online. Recruitment methods of al-Qaeda have taken full advantage of the Internet in what is referred to as the “cyber jihad.”
A report released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center found that 30 percent of new postings from extremist groups are made on Facebook. Often, after the messages are removed, the same groups will post them again and again. Some have started their own social networking sites, while others work around the “terms of use” agreements.

Included as examples in the report were a Facebook page on “44 ways to support jihad,” and another with a video tutorial on how to make a bomb detonator from a cell phone.

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