WASHINGTON – Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, issued a statement Friday following the release of a report, “Assessing the Terrorist Threat,” by the National Security Preparedness Group, chaired by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton.
The 42-page report concludes that nine years after 9/11, America still faces serious threats from al Qaeda affiliates around the world and from homebased terrorists. The report specifically warns of the expanding role played by residents living in the United States and operating within al Qaeda and allied organizations. It notes that a wide range of "U.S.-based jihadist militants" do not fit "any particular ethnic, economic, educational, or social profile." Senator Collins’ statement follows:
“This sobering report, released on the eve of our nation’s commemoration of the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, reinforces the extensive work done by the Senate Homeland Security Committee over the past several years,” said Senator Collins.
“In 2006, when I was chairman, our committee launched an investigation into violent Islamist extremism within the United States. Senator Lieberman and I initiated that investigation and subsequent hearings to gain a greater understanding of the threat of homebased terrorism in this country. We wanted to understand the process by which individuals could become radicalized to the point of violence, willing to commit acts of terror based on a perverse interpretation of Islam. We reviewed the work done by the NYPD into the stages of violent radicalization, and how the Internet can act as a ‘virtual terrorist training camp.’ We learned about the difficulty of detecting ‘lone wolf’ terrorists.
“All told, Senator Lieberman and I have held 11 hearings on this topic. Our investigation pointed to a potential wave of future terrorist activity. We warned that individuals within the United States could be inspired by al Qaeda’s violent ideology and could then take steps to plan and execute attacks – even if they had not received direct orders from al Qaeda to do so.
“Unfortunately, our warnings proved prescient. As today’s disturbing report illustrates, in the years since 9/11 our nation has suffered additional attacks, and we have confronted a steady increase in homebased terrorism.
“The concept of residents of our country becoming radicalized and plotting terrorist attacks against their own homeland is no longer an academic debate. Rather, it represents the emergence of a daunting and highly challenging security crisis for our country. This dangerous reality must be met with vigorous law enforcement and intelligence efforts that respect our fundamental rights. But these efforts alone will not be sufficient to confront this threat. Federal, state, and local governments must adopt innovative community outreach and engagement strategies that detect early signs of violent extremism and permit community leaders to intervene and reverse the radicalization process.”