Homegrown extremists in US and Europe main threat: Experts

People living and radicalized inside the United States and Europe pose the greatest danger to their countries, US terror experts say.

Those who decide to undertake solo attacks, like the two recently in New York City, are almost impossible to detect in advance, several experts told the AFP.

“In France, the US, or elsewhere, there certainly won’t be any more large attacks planned from abroad like those of November 13, 2015 in Paris,” said Marc Sageman, a former CIA agent and terror expert, referring to the alleged ISIL operation that left 130 dead.

Neither Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi immigrant who tried to blow up a New York subway station last week, nor Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek who drove a truck into pedestrians on a New York bike path on October 31, killing 8, had any evident contact with foreign extremist groups aside from watching their propaganda videos.

Self-radicalized attackers who completely unknown to authorities are the main threat countries face today, experts say.

While returning ISIL terrorists are definitely a threat, “it’s not a primary concern,” said Albert Ford of the New America think tank in Washington, DC.

According to data by New America, 85 percent of the 415 people accused of terrorism in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks have been US citizens. Of them, 207 were native-born citizens.

They also were not known to law enforcement: only one fourth had a police record.

“None of the deadly [extremist] attacks in the United States since 2014 had a known operational connection to ISIS or its networks,” a New America report says, using another acronym for ISIL.

In the US and Europe, homegrown attacks “are obviously the most dangerous,” echoed Thomas Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Transnational Threats Project.

The US government’s military operations abroad have been the main motivation behind instances of “homegrown” terrorism in America over the past years, according to a secret study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The study, which was released by the FBI’s counter-terrorism division in last year, surveyed intelligence experts and special agents who were working on over 200 cases linked to “homegrown violent extremists,”