The terrorism threat facing the U.S. may be vastly understated, as well as inaccurately characterized, because so many “failed” terror plots are excluded from the nation's terror attack databases, suggests new terrorism research reported by the Christian Science Monitor. Despite a sharp decline in terrorist attacks since the 1970s, there still were 207 terrorist attacks recorded inside the U.S. in the decade after 9/11 – about 20 per year on average, says the Global Terrorism Database maintained at the University of Maryland, widely regarded as the nation's most complete tally.
Erik Dahl of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Ca., tallied 109 failed terrorist plots between 2001 and 2012, only a few of which were included in the Maryland national terror “attack” totals. Those failed plots are perhaps just as important as plots that became actual attacks, some researchers say. Placing failed plots alongside successful attacks would make the terror-threat picture more complete and possibly reveal a different or bigger threat, they say. “The terror threat within the U.S. is higher than most Americans realize,” Dahl says. Of the 109 failed attacks, 76 were inspired by radical Islamist beliefs. That 30 percent of terror flops were not inspired by radical Islam “might surprise some people and shows the importance of the domestic extremist threat, including right-wing militias, anti-government groups,” he says.