'Stupid' Terrorists? Why Homegrown Terrorists are Often Incapable of Deadly Attacks in the United States
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies
Analysts and observers regularly observe that terrorists in the United States seem especially incapable of preparing and executing their attacks, such that they are often apprehended and make crucial mistakes. Why is this? Are homegrown terrorists in the United States especially subpar compared with other classes of terrorists? This presentation explores the interaction of three factors that explain the relative incapacity of terrorists in the United States: a security environment that generates a diverse array of mechanisms for detecting terrorist activity, a lack of experience in terrorist tradecraft among aspiring militants, and the way that the security environment precludes individuals from attaining the skills necessary to avoid detection in the first place and successfully execute their attacks. Drawing from recent cases, especially instances of apparent Muslim-American "homegrown" terrorism, about which there has been growing public concern, this presentation underscores the limited capacity of self-initiated terrorists to execute deadly attacks in the United States.
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Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies