To those of us who’ve been paying attention, it is no secret that the vicious cycle of US-led Western foreign policy has led to the creation and growth of terrorism worldwide. As the Free Thought Project has extensively noted over the years, the preemptive and oppressive tactics of the Pentagon have created a million Osama bin Ladens over the past decade alone. However, this problem has become so obvious, that even the US government has been forced to acknowledge it.
The Intercept recently reported it was given exclusive access to an internal FBI research study which surveyed FBI agents across the country, asking them their thoughts on homegrown terrorists. All of the agents surveyed were involved with over 200 open and closed cases of homegrown terrorism. Here’s a brief summary of the findings from the study titled, “Homegrown Violent Extremists: Survey Confirms Key Assessments, Reveals New Insights about Radicalization.”
- Anger over U.S. military operations overseas was the most often cited reason for individuals getting involved in cases of “homegrown” terrorism.
- Radicalization of homegrown terrorists follow no perceptible pattern.
- Radical terrorist believe the U.S. military commits atrocities in Muslim countries, and so homegrown terrorists justify their desires to retaliate.
- Online relationships with terrorists overseas (like Anwar Al-Awlaki) is a contributing factor driving extremism.
- Exposure to English-language militant propaganda is also cited as key factor driving extremism.
- Displeasure with U.S. military action was by far the most common factor in homegrown extremism found in 18 percent of the surveys taken.
- The U.S. being perceived to be at war against Islam and other factors associated with discrimination were also factors.
All of the aforementioned factors may be why, as the study notes, 10 of the 16 terrorist attacks (achieved or attempted), committed between 2009 and 2012, targeted military personnel or facilities.
According to The Intercept, “the report ends with recommendations that agents focus their attention on web forums, social media, and other online interactions, and step up surveillance of ‘known radicalizers’ and those who contact them.”
The Intercept cited Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer and author of “Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century”. Sageman says, politicians are partly to blame. “Politicians try very hard not to talk about foreign policy or military action being a major contributor to homegrown terrorism,” he said.
Sageman declares that radicalized homegrown terrorists identify with the victims of atrocities committed, they believe, by the U.S. Military. “Terrorism is very much a product of individuals identifying themselves with a group that appears to be the target of aggression and reacting violently to that,” he stated. “Continued U.S. military action will inevitably drive terrorist activities in this country, because some local people here will identify themselves with the victims of those actions abroad.”
If U.S. Military presence overseas, and perceived atrocities by the military is a driving factor in homegrown terrorism, then the most logical way, it appears, to keep Americans safer from domestic terrorism is to bring the troops home. But currently, there remains nearly 5,000 troops in Iraq, and President Obama promises to leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.
But even before he was Commander in Chief, in 2007, then Senator Barack H. Obama ran on a campaign promising to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and bring all U.S. troops home from the battlefield. He said, “I will promise you this…It is the first thing I will do. I will bring our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”
But even in the last three months of his presidency, after eight years of broken promises, he still has not fulfilled his commitment. And an enduring presence overseas, according to FBI agents here in the U.S., is a contributing factor to our own safety here at home. These wars need to stop now before they spill over into countries like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, creating an even bigger mess to clean up and leading to more instability in the homeland.