Home Grown Terrorism

Home Grown Terrorism

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The terrorist attack which occurred week in California was different from that which occurred in Paris, or over the Sinai desert, or in Beirut, et.al., as it does not appear to have been orchestrated or organized specifically or directly from abroad. Rather, what happened at the Inland Regional Center appears to have been the result of actions of a single, radicalized couple who appear to have acted consistent with their religious beliefs.

The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, demonstrates three fundamental points. First, the U.S. is extremely vulnerable to random terrorist attacks. Second, the doctrine espoused by radical Islam is seductive and persuasive enough that followers and devotees will act randomly as expressions of their acceptance of the faith. Third, the nature of such random acts brings into focus the nature—certainly to some extent—the dangers and fears felt by Israelis for the past few months from random acts of terror which have been occurring there almost daily.

If people are able to legally obtain all sorts of weapons, it is virtually impossible to stop such acts from occurring. In addition, a free and open democracy like the U.S. will always be a target for religious or political extremists. As a result, people who are committed to a radical form of Islam and believe that their faith ordains, tolerates, and honors those who commit acts of violence in the name of the faith will do so. The same can occur if radical Christians and Jews opt for violent action.

The California horror demonstrated that followers of radical Islam apparently can act without leadership or immediate support from outside. The techniques, methods, and patterns of how to conduct such attacks is readily available without the need for extensive training. Anyone willing to die in the conduct of terror activity will be able to accomplish his/her goal with relative ease.

Finally, these events add to the challenge that is faced virtually daily by Israelis from random attacks by isolated Arab Muslims of all ages and sexes. Single individuals-as young as in their early teens—largely lacking any ideology or training have  now become a round of newly minted suicide martyrs who now are acting as well in the name of Islam. They lack specific training but these random acts of violence being committed in the name of Islam as well do not require a clearly set of organized leaders and/or instructions.

All of which makes preventing and eliminating this type of terror virtually impossible; regardless of what some politicians would have the American people believe. Some steps can and must be taken at the source of the immediate threat, but eliminating it is virtually impossible. It constitutes the new reality with which the international community will have to live.

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