The Current Islamist Threat in the United States

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security recently released their Terror Threat Snapshot for September 2015. This monthly newsletter is one of the avenues the Committee uses to inform the American public of the terrorist threat across the nation. Each Snapshot contains a variety of pertinent information, such as maps, recent data, and statistics, which serve to encapsulate the current terrorist threat to the U.S.

As a result of the Islamic State’s (IS) ambitions to recruit and carry out attacks in western nations, recent Snapshots have focused primarily on the Islamist/Jihadist threat. The same can be said for September’s Snapshot, which is summarized below.

Key Datapoints (2014-present):

  • 64 IS supporters arrested– This number is up from 55 in July’s Snapshot. Only 12 IS supporters were arrested in 2014, meaning that to date 52 IS supporters have been arrested in the U.S. during 2015.
  • 18 terror plots/attacks – Of the total, 15 were attributed to IS and 3 to homegrown non-IS jihadist groups.
  • Plots/Attacks have a Northeast Focus – Of the 18 plots/attacks, 9 occurred in Washington, DC or further north on I-95; including four in New York, two in Massachusetts, and then one in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Washington. The Snapshot displays these plots/attacks on a map of the U.S. along with the locations of the IS supporters that have been arrested.

The report also includes its own “key takeaways” listed below:

  • The jihadist threat in the U.S. homeland is high and has escalated dramatically this year. There have been more U.S.-based jihadist terror cases in 2015 than in any full year since 9/11. The number of U.S. terrorist cases involving homegrown violent jihadists has gone from 38 in July 2010 to 124 today—more than a three-fold increase in just five years.”
  • [IS] is fueling the Islamist terror wildfire across the globe at unprecedented speed. “As of the end of August, the group has inspired or directed 57 terror attack plots against Western targets, including 15 in the United States. A recent train attack in France would have been a mass-casualty attack had it not been for an alert group of Americans. There have now been nearly twice as many [IS]-linked attack plots against the West this year (37) as there were in all of 2014 (20).”
  • Islamist terrorists are intent on killing American law enforcement and military personnel, in addition to innocent civilians.” Radicals are increasingly targeting men and women in uniform here in the United States. In August, ISIS supporters released another “hit list” of American government personnel, including service members. Since early 2014, the majority of Islamist terror plots on U.S. soil have featured plans to kill police or U.S. service members.”
  • [IS] has largely maintained its terror safe havens in Syria and Iraq while expanding globally more than a year after the U.S. and its allies launched operations against it. Al Qaeda affiliates from Syria to Yemen have also carved out sanctuary and seized additional terrain.

For more resources on both Domestic Extremism and Domestic Jihadism/Islamism, visit the Homeland Security Digital Library (some resources may require HSDL login).


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