Two American individuals were arrested Monday, charged with independently trying to carry out assaults against the United States - and as John Miller reports, the trend since the September 11 terror attacks by the al Qaeda terrorist organization has been towards an increased threat from "long wolf" terrorists, many of whom are home-grown.
Craig Benedict Baxam, an ex-Army soldier from Laurel, Md., was arrested for attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization in Somalia. Baxam is an Iraq vet who set out to travel to Somalia but was arrested and brought back to the U.S.
Baxam converted to Islam after tours in both Baghdad and in South Korea. According to the FBI Baxam then decided he was going to join al-Shabab, a Somali terrorist group that has 8,000 followers on Twitter. "He cashes out all of his military savings, he's on his way to Somalia when he's arrested in Kenya," Miller said.
On Monday in Florida, Sami Osmakac, a Kosovo-born Muslim man, was charged with plotting to attack crowded locations around Tampa, Fla., including nightclubs and a sheriff's office.
Miller reports Osmakac was planning to wear a suicide vest and attack nightclubs in the Tampa area, "then at a separate location, after setting off his car bomb, [he would] hold hostages and blow himself up when the police arrive."
"I think what we're looking at here is a very interesting trend," said Miller. "After 9/11 we saw an average of four of these cases a year roughly, and then in 2008, 2009, 2010, you see that really spike, so that you're having 13 cases, 18 cases. Last year we had another nine cases. So the question is, what made this kind of self-radicalization go up?
"I attribute a lot of it to Anwar al-Awlaki, when al Qaeda discovered that in their midst they had a master propagandist." Al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who promoted the terror group on the Internet, was killed by a U.S. drone attack in Yemen last September.
Miller said that while the power of Awlaki's message may have dimmed - the number of "lone wolf" cases has dropped a bit recently - his effect is still powerful.
"I think you still have to be concerned [by] the idea that these people are still meeting in groups, still finding each other in chat rooms, and still actively planning to go out and blow themselves up or create truck bombs," said Miller. "There are now a dozen cases where people have actually brought what they believed were live bombs to the scene of where they wanted to strike and press the button, only to find out they were in the middle of an FBI sting or an NYPD sting."