Silber, M. and Bhatt, A.-2007
While terrorism has been with us for centuries, the destructive power and global reach of modern terrorism is unprecedented. The entire world witnessed the attacks of September 11, 2001, but most of the attacks and attempted attacks since then have shown 9/11 to be an anomaly rather than the standard pattern for terrorism in the homeland. If the post-September 11th world has taught us anything, it is that the tools for conducting serious terrorist attacks are becoming easier to acquire. Therefore intention becomes an increasingly important factor in the formation of terrorist cells. This study is an attempt to look at how that intention forms, hardens and leads to an attack or attempted attack using real world case studies. While the threat from overseas remains, many of the terrorist attacks or thwarted plots against cities in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States have been conceptualized and planned by local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence. The majority of these individuals began as “unremarkable” – they had “unremarkable” jobs, had lived “unremarkable” lives and had little, if any criminal history. The recently thwarted plot by homegrown jihadists, in May 2007, against Fort Dix in New Jersey, only underscores the seriousness of this emerging threat. Understanding this trend and the radicalization process in the West that drives “unremarkable” people to become terrorists is vital for developing effective counterstrategies. This realization has special importance for the NYPD and the City of New York. As one of the country’s iconic symbols and the target of numerous terrorist plots since the 1990’s, New York City continues to be the one of the top targets of terrorists worldwide. Consequently, the NYPD places a priority on understanding what drives and defines the radicalization process. The aim of this report is to assist policymakers and law enforcement officials, both in Washington and throughout the country, by providing a thorough understanding of the kind of threat we face domestically. It also seeks to contribute to the debate among intelligence and law enforcement agencies on how best to counter this emerging threat by better understanding what constitutes the radicalization process.