Monday, September 07, 2015

07-Sep-15: Putting numbers to the fears: terrorism is absolutely growing

From the September 2015 Terror Threat Snapshot
In June 2015, a freshly launched USA government publication called “Terror Threat Snapshot” caught our eye. It was going to be put out monthly by the US Congress' House Committee on Homeland Security. Now, we're not great believers in the readability of government reports, but this one made some interesting comments right off the bat. So we have stayed tuned, and read it when new issues emerge.

That first issue referred back to newspaper reports (like this one from International Business Times) that appeared in 2014 and indicated that terrorists in the service of ISIS were using sea-going smugglers to create refugee flows into Europe as a kind of "Trojan Horse", generating concerns about how terrorists might potentially exploit these flows.

So here we are in September 2015, thinking disturbing thoughts, particularly after viewing the video clips circulating in the social media the last few days - lots of men, many rough looking but hardly desperate; not so many women and children. (This one from Hungary, devoid of dialogue, captures the mood. And this one. And this.)

The House Homeland Security committee chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican representative from Texas, launched the latest Snapshot on Friday [press release], emphasizing that the threat from jihad in the U.S. was already high and has escalated dramatically during 2015. Here, in our words, are some of the larger talking points:
  • More jihadist terror cases have been uncovered in 2015 than in any year since 9/11. 
  • ISIS is fueling what the report calls "Islamist terror wildfire across the globe" at a speed that has no precedent. As of the end of August, ISIS had inspired or initiated 57 terror attack plots against Western targets, of which 15 were targeted at the United States. 
  • ISIS has affiliates, groups pledging support or a direct presence in 18 countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Pakistan, Philippines, the North Caucasus region of Russia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. It controls 12 cities and towns in Iraq and 13 more in Syria as of early September 2015.
  • Activists working in the name of ISIS have released "hit lists" of American government personnel, including service members. Most Islamist terror plots on U.S. soil have, since the start of 2014, been based on killing police or U.S. service members.
  • Cases involving homegrown jihadists/terrorists rose from 38 in July 2010 to 124 today, a rise of 300% in five years.
  • On August 13, 2015, the ISIS "hacking division" released information on 1,400 American government personnel  and urged its followers to track them down and do harmful things. The released information included names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers. 
  • How many Westerners have gone to fight in the Syria and Iraq Arab-on-Arab bloodbath? About 4,500 including 550 women, and including more than 250 Americans, including those who attempted to travel and failed. Some 40 American fighters who went to Syria had returned to the United States as of March 2015, and some have since been arrested on terror charges.
We don't have much time for people who say terrorism is a side-show, we're winning, it's drying up. The reality is it's getting worse on a global basis, with clear and identifiable focuses of activity and inspiration, and it's going to get much worse before our side prevails.

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