On September 10th, THE BIPARTISANPOLICYCENTERS NATIONAL SECURITY PREPAREDNESS GROUP (NSPG) released a new report, Assessing the Terrorist Threat. By P. Bergen and Dr. B. Hoffman, two world-class experts on terrorism. The study was sponsored by NSPG co-chairs Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean who formerly served as the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission. The NSPG is composed of a distinguished bipartisan group of experts which includes: former U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. Senator E. S. Abraham, P. Bergen, Dr. S. Flynn, Dr. J. Gannon, Dr. B. Hoffman, former Congressman Dave McCurdy, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge, Frances Townsend, former U.S. Attorney General R. L. Thornburgh, former Congressman Jim Turner, and former Secretary of Agriculture and BPC Senior Fellow Dan Glickman. Michael Allen, formerly of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council, is the Executive Director.
The NSPG report highlights the inadequacies and failures of the US Governments management of the homegrown terrorist problem since 911. This begs the question- Who is minding the store? “Al-Qaeda and its allies arguably have been able to establish at least an embryonic terrorist recruitment, radicalization, and operational infrastructure in the United States.”  “It is fundamentally troubling, given this collection of new threats and new adversaries directly targeting America, that there remains no federal government agency or department specifically charged with identifying radicalization and interdicting the recruitment of U.S. citizens or residents for terrorism. As one senior intelligence analyst lamented, “There’s no lead agency or person. … It has to be integrated across agencies, across levels of government, public-private cooperation” -- which, unfortunately, it is not. America is thus vulnerable to a threat that is not only diversifying, but arguably intensifying. Our long-held belief that homegrown terrorism couldn’t happen here has thus created a situation where we are today stumbling blindly through the legal, operational, and organizational minefield of countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment occurring in the United States.”-Bergen and Hoffman NSPG, 9/10/2010
MINNESOTA CONNECTIONAccording to NSPG,The streets of Minneapolis are now among the frontlines in America’s war on terror.
“Well over a year ago, federal authorities became aware of radicalization and recruitment occurring in the U.S. when Somali-Americans started disappearing from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and turning up in Somalia with Shabab. Administration officials and others believed it was an isolated, one-off phenomenon. But it wasn’t -- as grand juries in Minnesota and San Diego can attest, along with ongoing FBI investigations in Boston, two locations in Ohio, and Portland, Maine. The number of Somali-Americans who left the U.S. to train in Somalia turned out to be far higher than initially believed, and once they were in Somalia some were indeed being trained by al-Qaeda. As the ranks of U.S. recruits have grown, the new frontlines have become the streets ofBridgeport, Denver, Minneapolis, and other big and small communities across America.
Minnesota Somalis – Federal prosecutors in 2009 indicted two groups of men (eight in one indictment, six in another) for recruiting young men in Somali communities in Minnesota and fundraising for the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab. Some of the men are currently believed to be in Somalia, and seven of those charged as part of the ongoing investigation were indicted in August 2010 on additional charges of providing material support to Shabab.
According to our analysis of the 57 Americans whose ethnicities are known who have been charged or convicted of Islamist terrorism crimes in the United States or elsewhere since January 2009, the single largest bloc are Somali-Americans at 31 percent, a number that reflects the recent crackdown by federal authorities on support networks for Americans traveling to Somalia to fight with Shabab.74”-Bergen and Hoffman, NSPG, 9/10/2010
NSPG Terrorist Threat Report Conclusion
“The conventional wisdom has long been that America was immune to the heady currents of radicalization affecting both immigrant and indigenous Muslim communities elsewhere in the West. That has now been shattered by the succession of cases that have recently come to light of terrorist radicalization and recruitment occurring in the United States. “-Bergen and Hoffman, NSPG, 9/10/2010
Will this report be taken seriously by our current political leaders and candidates for elective office? Can we in Minnesota afford not to address this problem aggressively?