An April 4 bombing attack on a Somali movie theater by a female member of the terrorist organization al-Shabaab has demonstrated such groups’ interest in targeting public venues in armed assaults. Equally disquieting, a leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo suggests there is a chance that similar attacks could take place in the United States. This memo has understandably caused alarm for many who fear a Mumbai-style attack within our borders.
While the 2008 Mumbai attacks, with a tragic death toll of 174 people, represented one of the most high-profile examples of an armed assault, the U.S. itself has not been immune to this same type of threat. In 2009, for instance, Nadal Hassan killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Ft. Hood, and Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad opened fire at a Little Rock military recruiting office, leaving one soldier dead and another wounded. Likewise, of the at least 51 Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks against the United States thwarted since 9/11, more than a dozen have involved planned assault-style tactics.
While public concern has often centered on the threat of large-scale attacks like those that occurred on 9/11, smaller-scale attacks by individuals like Hassan and Muhammad also present a significant threat that cannot be ignored.
Maura Cremin is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm