Holder: Home-grown terrorist threat keeps me awake at night

posted at 11:35 am on December 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The main threat to the US is no longer foreigners infiltrating the homeland for conducting terrorist attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder says in this ABC News interview. The threat that keeps him awake at night comes from the radicalization of American citizens into terrorists, an effort conducted primarily by Anwar al-Awlaki, with whom the Pentagon initially partnered after 9/11 to promote moderation in Islam. So far, the FBI has discovered dozens of would-be jihadis and “neutralized” them through prosecution; Holder says that they’ve been good rather than lucky, but that Americans will still have to prepare themselves to hear “bad news” eventually:

Attorney General Eric Holder has an urgent message for Americans: While he is confident that the United States will continue to thwart attacks, “the terrorists only have to be successful once.”

And while it is not certain we will be hit, the American people, he told ABC News, “have to be prepared for potentially bad news.”

“What I am trying to do in this interview is to make people aware of the fact that the threat is real, the threat is different, the threat is constant,” he said. …

And while it is not certain we will be hit, the American people, he told ABC News, “have to be prepared for potentially bad news.”

“What I am trying to do in this interview is to make people aware of the fact that the threat is real, the threat is different, the threat is constant,” he said.

“It is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” Holder said. “You didn’t worry about this even two years ago — about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And — that is of — of great concern.”

That’s not entirely true.  The Bush administration also discussed the problems of home-grown jihadis, especially after Richard Reid’s attempt to blow up an airplane with explosives hidden in his shoes, an attempt thwarted by alert passengers on the flight.  Reid was a British citizen, not American, but certainly personified the threat in real and stark terms in 2002.  The US rounded up other home-grown AQ wannabes during the Bush administration, including the Florida group that plotted to bomb the Sears Tower.  Saying that “you didn’t worry about this even two years ago” flies in the face of the evidence.  If that was intended as a shot at the previous administration, Holder missed his target by a mile; instead, it just makes him look sadly and perhaps dangerously uninformed.

Bruce McQuain notices something missing from Holder’s threat assessment:

Well acknowledging that every single one of the “terrorists” or “radicals” among the 50 or so apprehended this year was Muslim or a convert to Islam might go a long way in identifying the threat.  Osama bin Laden, Al Awlaki and the 50 Americans all have in common their brand of radical Islam.  Al Qaeda didn’t just pop up because it thought it would be fun to target and kill Americans, it exists because its followers believe in a radical brand of Islam that instructs them to make war against infidels.  And America is considered the infidel of infidel nations.  Ergo, it is their primary target.

Without the underlying thread of their radical beliefs, they have no real reason to attack us.  But, acknowledging that all 50 of the “Americans” were Muslim and the fact that all 126 arrested shared that same radical faith would mean acknowledging that Muslims are 100% of the problem.  Can’t do that and search granny at the airport (in the name of fairness)can we?  Can’t do that and risk the charge of “profiling” – something we absolutely ought to be doing until circumstance or evidence lead us to do otherwise.

The fact that they have arrested so many and apparently all sharing radical Islamic beliefs indicate that they’re more focused operationally on the threat than they are rhetorically in their public relations.  That may be a strategic impulse at the DoJ — refraining from adding to a notion that America is at war with Islam itself — in order to keep a lid down on the numbers of those radicalized.  As long as they have the right approach operationally, I’d be willing to trade the rhetorical PR for the results.  Airport security is another issue entirely, of course, under the purview of a different Cabinet member (Janet Napolitano), and Bruce makes a great point.

To get back to Holder’s point, will Americans accept “bad news” as a matter of course?  We’ve been fortunate, for the most part, since Reid’s attempt.  The only successful attack inspired by Awlaki or other AQ efforts was the Fort Hood shooting, but two more came close enough to rely on the incompetence of the bomber for safety in the past year.  A successful terrorist attack will raise all sorts of questions about competence in counterterrorism.  The string of success this far has created an expectation of security that will burden any administration if an attack occurs.


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Comment pages: 1 2

The thought that Holder and Obama are in charge of managing terrorist threats is what keeps me awake at night (once I’ve managed to get their orchestrated destruction of the national economy out of my mind, that is)…

Blacklake on December 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Holder is working hard to cover his butt for when the crap hits the fan.

rplat on December 21, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Hey Holder, do you mean groups like the New Black Panthers? Or do you mean TEA party members?

dogsoldier on December 21, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Holder: Home-grown terrorist threat keeps me awake at night

You know what keeps me awake at night? It’s knowing that you’re guarding the gate. I’d feel more secure if Al Sharpton was in your position and Jesse Jackson was in charge of Homeland Security.

Oldnuke on December 21, 2010 at 5:04 PM

The American people have to be prepared for potentially bad news.”

We are we got it in Nov 2008 and after you were appointed AG, dufus.

wepeople on December 21, 2010 at 5:32 PM

As long as Islamic Jihadists have our cowardly AG ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of mentioning “Islam”, “Muslim”, “religion”, etc.,

WE ARE SCREWED!

Can’t wait for Republican House committee hearings 24/7.

fred5678 on December 21, 2010 at 5:33 PM

“It is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” Holder said.

Holder, you are lying sack of meadow muffins.

If you are so concerned why did you let the Black Panther terrorist go?

You people piss me off.

davidk on December 21, 2010 at 6:24 PM

The entire Obamanation is bad news and keeps me awake at night, too! When do we meet in DC…

rgranger on December 21, 2010 at 10:23 PM

That may be a strategic impulse at the DoJ — refraining from adding to a notion that America is at war with Islam itself — in order to keep a lid down on the numbers of those radicalized.

(1) Mohammed declared war on the rest of the world 1400 years ago. Islam remains at war with the rest of the world to this day. It will continue the war on civilization until it is utterly destroyed. How can we hope to prevail, if we will not even identify our enemies?

(2)How, exactly, does this moronic “strategy” keep a lid down on the numbers of Islamists radicalized? These murderous scum are motivated by the fundamental principles of Islam, and every so-called provocation is just another excuse. Focusing on the excuses only prevents addressing the real issue, the violence and barbarity inherent in Islam.

It is long past time to identify the enemy and “moderate Muslim” sensibilities be damned. The so-called “moderate Muslims” will only deal with the death cult in their midst when the price of silence is greater than the cost of exposing the death cultists, and not before.

Time to start raising the price.

novaculus on December 22, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Comment pages: 1 2