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The United States faces its highest Islamist terror threat environment since 9/11, and much of the threat now stems from individuals who have been radicalized at home, according to the monthly terror threat snapshot published by the US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.
Since 9/11, the US has seen 227 homegrown jihadist cases with a recent surge of 115 cases in 2015 and 2016 alone.
The report cited as an example the vehicle and knife attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee, which left him dead and 11 people injured.
One of the trends highlighted by the report has been ISIS’ shift in messaging—from joining the jihad in Syria and Iraq to carrying out attacks in fighters’ home countries—is likely to accelerate this trend.
According to the document published on the Committee’s website, ISIS continued to wreak havoc against Western targets in 2016. Throughout the year, ISIS conducted 62 attacks, wounding 732 and killing 215 in places like the United States, France, and Belgium.
The threat to Europe and the United States will persist in 2017, particularly as jihadists flee from Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. Terror groups will also continue to rely on refugee programs, porous borders, and well-known migration routes to gain access to various countries throughout the West.
The Iran nuclear deal—coupled with instability in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen—has reenergized Tehran’s hardliners and placed the regime in a stronger position to achieve regional hegemony. Iranian aggression, particularly in the Persian Gulf, has become routine and remains largely unopposed. If left unchecked, Tehran will continue to threaten United States’ interests at home and abroad.
“Make no mistake: we face a deadlier threat than ever before not only because our enemies have gotten savvier, but because we took the pressure off them,” stated the Committee’s Chairman Michael McCaul – who was reportedly on President-Elect Donald Trump’s shortlist for Secretary of Homeland Security, according to inhomelandsecurity.com. “For eight years, the Obama Administration reluctantly played global ‘whack-a-mole’ with terrorists rather than leaning into the fight with decisive leadership.”
The report quotes the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) which has identified “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program.” McCaul added that the Obama administration has resettled nearly 13,000 Syrian refugees in the United States this past fiscal year. Over in Europe, as many as 36 militants posing as migrants have been arrested or killed while plotting or carrying out terrorist acts.