The top members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee say the administration’s new national strategy to counter violent, homegrown extremism is a good start, but isn’t quite there yet.
Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and ranking Republican Susan Collins of Maine, said the new plan for dealing with “lone-wolf” self-radicalized Americans could help reverse an increase over the past two years in the number of homegrown terrorism plots against the nation. They expressed concern, however, that the plan does not designate a lead agency or individual “to ensure accountability and effectiveness.”
“The administration must now quickly produce an implementation plan showing what specific actions should be taken and by whom, who is in charge, what resources are needed, and how to assess progress in countering the terrorist ideology,” the senators said in a joint statement. They said the plan should focus more specifically on “violent Islamist extremism – the greatest threat we face today.”
“To understand this threat and counter it, we must not shy away from making the sharp distinction between a major religion followed by millions of law abiding Americans and a twisted ideology,” the senators said.
The two also called on the administration to put more emphasis on efforts to curb the threats posed by the Internet, which they described as “a major source for the radicalization, recruitment, and mobilization of recent homegrown Islamist extremists.”
Citing a Congressional Research Service report, the senators noted arrests had been made in 31 homegrown plots by American citizens or permanent residents between May of 2009 and July of this year.
By comparison, they said only 21 arrests had been made between the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and May of 2009.
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