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‘Forecast for 2017 Looks Alarming’ McCaul’s February ‘Terror Threat Snapshot’ Says; Controversy Over White House Terror Attack List

Coinciding with media criticism that Trump’s assertion the media hasn’t been reporting all Islamist jihadi attacks is unsupported, the House Committee on Homeland Security stated in its monthly Terror Threat Snapshot released this week that there were 39 homegrown jihadist cases in 19 states in 2016 to date.

The report said this represents an “unprecedented spike in the homegrown terror threat, primarily driven by the rise of ISIS.”

“At this rate, the forecast for 2017 looks alarming,” the report concluded.

The Snapshot said, “Authorities continue to track a high number of homegrown terror plots in the United States, and the number of cases since 9/11 is nearing a historic milestone … There have been nearly 200 total homegrown jihadist cases in the United States since 9/11 (the figure currently stands at 193), a majority having taken place in just the past few years,” and, “Since 2014, there have been at least 166 ISIS-linked plots or attacks against Western targets, including four known plots in January, two of which were thwarted."

“Although ISIS faces continued counterterrorism pressure in its key safe havens, the group’s external operations plotting appears undiminished,” with this year opening  “with a deadly ISIS-linked attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, leaving 39 dead and demonstrating the terror group’s continued ability to inspire and organize major attacks,” the Snapshot said, adding, “European nations are moving forward with counterterrorism reforms designed to cope with the surging terror threat. Yet, despite improvements, the continent still suffers from major security weaknesses that make European countries more vulnerable to attack and put US interests overseas at risk.”

"I am very encouraged that the Trump administration is preparing to put greater pressure on jihadists in their safe havens throughout the world. But, as they do, we can expect to see militants returning to the West to build new networks and to plot more deadly operations,” said committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). I look forward to working with the new administration on shutting down terror pathways in America. We must also remain vigilant here at home, because Americans are being radicalized at an alarming rate.”

Monday, the White House issued a list of terrorist attacks stating that since September 2014 to December 2016, there were “78 major terrorist attacks targeting the West that were executed or inspired by ISIS … soon after the terror group declared its caliphate,” most of which “did not receive adequate attention from Western media sources," a White House official said on background.

The media quickly pointed out that many of the attacks on the list were in fact covered by both the international and American press, some quite extensively. Only a handful of the attacks on the list were not widely reported or no media reports could be found.

One attack not on the list that received minimal coverage with regard to its jihadi-inspired motivation was the September 2014 attack by demonstrated Islamist convert Jah’Keem Yisrael (Alton Alexander Nolen), who beheaded a woman and tried to behead another former co-worker at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma where he’d recently been fired before being shot by company CEO Mark Vaughan, an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy.

During a mental competency hearing last August, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn revealed Nolen had an ISIS flag in his car and had researched ISIS and beheadings on his personal computer. At the hearing, prosecutors also disclosed Nolen “justified his actions based on his reading of the Quran and stated that he would do the same thing again to anyone who oppressed him.”

During his competency hearing when he was asked if he wanted to stay with his guilty plea, he said, “Praise to Allah, yes.”

When the judge asked if he wanted more time to reconsider his plea, he said, “Praise to Allah, no.”

Defense expert Robert Hunt, Director of Global Theological Education, Professor of Christian Mission and Interreligious Relations and Director, Center for Evangelism and Missional Church Studies at Southern Methodist University, testified that Nolen’s perceptions about being a Muslim are irrational and contradictory.

He told the court in a written report that, “The use of beheading by ISIS is in the context of perceived crimes against the Muslim community and involves trials, however unjust, and a finding of guilt. They do not involve settling personal disputes.”

Counterterrorism Islamist authorities disagree with Hunt’s take on ISIS’s jihadi ideology. Acts and statements by ISIS also tend to contradict what he told the court.

On August 17, 2016, Nolan was declared not competent to stand trial.

The FBI said it determined Nolan had no ties to foreign terrorist groups and surprisingly declined to address whether he should be considered a self-radicalized Islamist, contrary to the FBI’s conclusion in subsequent admittedly self-radicalization terrorism cases and the FBI Counterterrorism Division’s 2006 internal report, The Radicalization Process: From Conversion to Jihad.

The Obama administration, as in other attacks by apparent self-radicalized individuals, considered the attack an incident of "workplace violence."

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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