This week, we saw the nexus between thinking about the threat of so-called "homegrown terror" and its reality.
Today, Jose Padilla (not to be confused with Richard Reid or John Walker Lindh) was convicted of federal terrorism support charges. A Chicago native, he was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant. Padilla and his co-defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi (Catholics?! Jews?! Buddhists?!), face life in prison because they were convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas----as part of a cell that provided all kinds of support to Islamic extremists. All three were also convicted of two terrorism material support counts that carry possible 15-year sentences each. Their defense argued that they were just trying to help persecuted Muslims in war zones with relief and humanitarian aid.
Of course they were.
Earlier in the week, the New York City Police Department's Intelligence Division issued a report about radical Islam in and around the city. The report, of course, has national implications. U.S. law enforcement officials say they have already identified "clusters" of young Muslim men, especially in the Northeast, who are on "the trajectory of radicalization."
They hang out in mosques (duh!), and bookstores, cafes, prisons, and flop houses, becoming what the report called "self-generating cells." That is, inspired by al Qaeda but not necessarily taking direct orders from bin Laden and al-Zawahiri.
The report also details at least 10 (count 'em, TEN) recent cases where the FBI, local authorities, and European police and intelligence have stopped plots in various stages of planning and operation.
The New Jersey Intelligence Assessment also pointed out that "these individuals are virtually indistinguishable from the population." Meaning: in many cases they are citizens who blend in very well and look to the average American as if they are completely assimilated.
Welcome to Western Europe. This is exactly the problem they face. In this country, we like to think we're different: that America is a unique melting pot that encourages assimilation through opportunity and prosperity. Well, we may do that better than Western Europe, but we're not foolproof. Jose Padilla proves that.
As he's led off yet again in an orange jumpsuit, let's not lose sight of what the NYPD and NJ reports say:
*that the threat is radical Islam;
*that it's here;
*that it disguises itself as "assimilated;"
*and that it's shielded by Islamic and Arab groups that claim and often sue for "discrimination."
We need to stomp out this problem before it metastasizes. Weeds are "homegrown" too. That doesn't mean we let them grow.