You would think that some of these officials would stop and wonder why the Islamic State’s message so resonates with so many Muslims in America. But they are bound as a matter of policy to ignore that question.
“White House steps up warnings about terrorism on U.S. soil,” by Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2015:
Alarmed about the growing threat from Islamic State, the Obama administration has dramatically stepped up warnings of potential terrorist attacks on American soil after several years of relative calm.
Behind the scenes, U.S. authorities have raised defenses at U.S. military bases, put local police forces on alert and increased surveillance at the nation’s airports, railroads, shopping malls, energy plants and other potential targets.
Driving the unease are FBI arrests of at least 30 Americans on terrorism-related charges this year in an array of “lone wolf” plots, none successful, but nearly all purportedly inspired by Islamic State propaganda or appeals.
The group’s leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, drove home the danger in a 34-minute audio recording released online Thursday. He urged Muslims everywhere to “migrate to the Islamic State or fight in his land, wherever that may be.”
The audio was released with translations in English, French, German, Russian and Turkish, signaling the militants’ increasingly ambitious attempts to draw new recruits — and to spark violence — around the world.
U.S. officials estimate the Sunni Muslim group has drawn 22,000 foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, including about 3,700 from Western nations. About 180 Americans have gone, or tried to go.
U.S. counter-terrorism officials initially viewed Islamic State as primarily a regional security threat, focused on expanding and protecting its self-proclaimed Islamist caliphate in Syria and Iraq, rather than launching attacks abroad.
But the analysis has shifted sharply as gunmen inspired by the group, but not controlled or assisted by them, opened fire at the Parliament in Ottawa; at a cafe in Sydney, Australia; at a kosher grocery in Paris; and, on May 3, in Garland, Texas.
In the Texas case, two would-be terrorists apparently prompted by Islamic State social media messages tried to shoot their way into a provocative contest for caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. Both gunmen were shot to death, and no one else was killed. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the assault, the first time it has done so for an attack on U.S. soil.
James B. Comey, the FBI director, warned this month that “hundreds, maybe thousands” of Americans are seeing recruitment pitches from Islamic State on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, as well as messages sent to smartphones of “disturbed people” who could be pushed to attack U.S. targets.
“It’s like the devil sitting on their shoulders saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill,'” Comey told reporters.
The United States has entered a “new phase, in my view, in the global terrorist threat,” Jeh Johnson, director of Homeland Security, said Friday on MSNBC.
“We have to be concerned about the independent actor, and the independent actor who is here in the homeland who may strike with little or no warning,” he said. “The nature of the global terrorist threat has evolved.”…