Learning From Terrorist Dropouts

Posted: January 22, 2010 in Learning From Terrorist Dropouts, The Fight Against Jihad

January 21, 2010

Terrorist Dropouts: Learning from those who have Left

By Michael Jacobson

In December 2001, Sajid Badat and Richard Reid, two young Muslims from England, were scheduled to blow up two U.S.-bound planes by using explosive-laden footwear, Jacobson writes. Reid — like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, al-Qaeda’s most recent alleged plane bomber — made the attempt and failed. Badat, however, abandoned the plan, later telling prosecutors he wanted to “introduce some calm” into his life. What led Badat to choose an alternative path? What can we learn from his case and from the many other terrorist “dropouts” who have left al-Qaeda? In a newly released Washington Institute study, I explore these difficult but important questions.

Trying to understand how to reverse, halt or stop radicalization is an issue which is taking on increased urgency for the US government, as it copes with evidence of a growing problem on the home front. For years, the commonly held view has been that the US did not have a serious radicalization issue at home, in contrast to what was occurring on the ground in Europe. The slew of cases over the past year of US citizens who were radicalized and apparently eager to take action, against targets here and abroad, has raised new concerns about the threat of homegrown terrorism. Senior Obama administration officials have candidly acknowledged that the view of the situation has changed. As U.S. attorney general Eric Holder observed in a July 2009 speech after a spate of arrests in the US, the “whole notion of radicalization is something that did not loom as large a few months ago…as it does now.” And in December, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that “[h]ome-based terrorism in here. And like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture we must now confront.”

To read the study, click here:

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