Understanding Terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda

By Christopher Hewitt | Go to book overview

8

The future of American terrorism

In this final chapter, some predictions will be made concerning the threat of terrorism on American soil over the next decade or so. Such an analysis requires answering three questions. Who are the dangerous groups? What are the goals of these dangerous groups? What resources and capabilities do these groups have?

There is general agreement that two groups, Islamic and rightist extremists, are likely to engage in terrorist acts within America, although different experts have placed more or less emphasis on one or the other at different times. In 1996, the FBI declared that Islamic radicals represented the greatest threat. While their base of support lies overseas, in the Muslim world, as John O’Neill, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism section, noted, they “now have the capability and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose.” O’Neill added that there was also a growing danger from “the anti-government movement, particularly the militias…. We are seeing a threat from international groups and the domestic groups at the same time” (quoted in Rowan 1996:13). Two years later, after the Oklahoma City bombing, a US News and World Report article focused on the danger from the right, noting that “two years after Oklahoma City, violent sects still abound.” The article concluded, “A serious terrorism threat also remains from international groups, particularly from the Mideast. Yet while international terrorists have repeatedly attacked American targets overseas, they have not struck inside the United States since 1993” (Kaplan and Tharp 1998). Morris Dees and Mark Potok (2001), writing on the eve of Timothy McVeigh’s execution, claimed that while support for the militia movement had dwindled, there was still a significant threat from revolutionary neo-Nazi hate groups. Writing days after the destruction of the Twin Towers, Vincent Cannistraro (2001), former head of CIA counterterrorism operations, saw both al Qaeda and Christian Identity

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Understanding Terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables viii
  • Illustrations x
  • Series Editors’ Preface xi
  • Preface xvi
  • 1 - The Latest Atrocity 1
  • 2 - Before September 11 12
  • 3 - The Political Context of American Terrorism 23
  • Notes 51
  • 4 - The Organizational Dynamics of Terrorism 53
  • 5 - The Terrorists 69
  • 6 - Dealing with Terrorists 82
  • 7 - Impacts and Consequences 106
  • 8 - The Future of American Terrorism 119
  • Appendix 134
  • Bibliography 138
  • Index 149
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