Homegrown attackers are the biggest terrorist threat against the U.S. now, says a new study from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group, the successor to the 9/11 Commission, NPR reports. “A key shift in the past couple of years is the increasingly prominent role in planning and operations that U.S. citizens and residents have played in the leadership of al-Qaida and aligned groups, and the higher numbers of Americans attaching themselves to these groups,” says the group.
The report is based on interviews with a wide range of senior U.S. counterterrorism officials at both the federal and local levels as well as research by its two authors, terrorism experts Peter Bergen and Bruce Hoffman, who, between them, have more than 50 years of experience in the terrorism field. Perhaps what’s most striking about the study is its argument that all of the hand-wringing about dirty bombs, chemical weapons, and mass-casualty attacks is misplaced. Al-Qaida, they say, doesn’t have the ability to launch an extraordinary operation on the scale of Sept. 11 anymore. Instead, it has to content itself with attacks that kill dozens or, at best, hundreds at a time.