On Monday, the Britain-based think tank the Henry Jackson Society—named for Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson of Washington—published a major report by co-authors Robin Simcox and Emily Dyer on Al-Qaeda in the United States—A Complete Analysis of Terrorism Offenses.
The report provides, in its words, “a comprehensive overview of those who have carried out or sought to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States, along with a statistical breakdown and analysis of key trends.” Those statistics and trends are alarming. The terrorist threat is not limited to New York City, though it is certainly the leading target: Offenders have come from Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Wyoming, as well as New Jersey and New York.
Moreover, it is certainly not limited to non-U.S. citizens, or the foreign-born. Over half the offenses were committed by U.S. citizens—perpetrators from Saudi Arabia, the second most common nationality, made up a mere 9 percent of the total. Over one-third of terrorists were born in the U.S.
The offenders are neither poorly nor badly educated: Over half had attended college, and a quarter had received education past the college level. Nearly one-quarter were converts to Islam, and 40 percent of U.S. citizens who committed terrorist offenses were converts.
What emerges from the Simcox and Dyer report is what Heritage research associate Jessica Zuckerman has chronicled in her ongoing tracking of the 54 terrorist plots that have, to date, been thwarted since 9/11. The number of homegrown plots is substantial and rising.
The al-Qaeda threat is above all about ideology, which has the ability to spread rapidly and create threats that we cannot predict, whether in Colorado or the African nation of Mali, where Islamists now control half the country. While the Obama Administration is busy proclaiming victory because the al-Qaeda core is badly wounded, the British analysis reinforces the recommendations of The Heritage Foundation’s Counterterrorism Task Force Report by demonstrating that the Islamist threat will in all likelihood be with us for a long time to come.