Perhaps the hearts and minds we should have been worried about winning over reside a little closer to home. Counterterrorism officials testified at congressional hearings Wednesday that a spike in recent terrorism activities is evidence that the number of “U.S. persons” who are “radicalized in the U.S.” is growing. “Groups affiliated with Al Qaeda are now actively targeting the United States and looking to use Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures,” said FBI director Robert S. Mueller. In the past eighteen months, 63 Americans have been arrested or convicted of terrorism. Testimony from Mueller and Secretary Janet Napolitano sounded similar to the findings from a report released by the Bipartisan Policy Center earlier this month, but with a graver tone.
Michael Leiter, head of the National Counterterrorism Center, described the recruiting tactics: “A blend of Al Qaeda inspiration, perceived victimization, and glorification of past plotting has become increasingly accessible through the Internet, and English-language websites are tailored to address the unique concerns of U.S.-based extremists.”