A monthly terror forecast from Homeland Security warns that 2017 "looks alarming" for the U.S. and Europe.
According to Fox News, the House Homeland Security Committee’s February "Terror Threat Snapshot" report predicts that efforts to crush foreign terror groups could cause more attacks on American soil. It cites an "unprecedented spike in the homegrown terror threat, primarily driven by the rise of ISIS," and warns of "lone wolf" attacks as well as homegrown terrorists who return from fighting in such places as Iraq, Syria and Somalia.
“I am very encouraged that the Trump administration is preparing to put greater pressure on jihadists in their safe havens throughout the world,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. “But as they do, we can expect to see militants returning to the West to build new networks and to plot more deadly operations.”
The report notes that since the beginning of 2016, there have been plots or attacks by 39 homegrown jihadists in 19 states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Two attacks occurred just last month, a deadly shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport by ISIS-radicalized Esteban Santiago, and the murder of a Denver Regional Transportation District security officer by a suspect carrying jihadist material in his backpack. And the U.S. and Europe could, as Fox News puts it, "continue to reap the bloody tide of what critics call lax counter-terrorism efforts in the past."
“Unfortunately, over the past eight years of the Obama administration, the ideological counter-measures were removed and, therefore, the level of radicalization peaked to the levels acknowledged in this report,” says Walid Phares, who advised Trump on foreign policy throughout the campaign. “More jihadis mean more potential attacks -- this is what we are facing now.”
Fox News has more details:
According to the report, although ISIS faces continued counterterrorism pressure in their “key safe havens,” the group’s external operations plotting appears “undiminished.”
The report also noted counterterrorism efforts, including the elimination of key ISIS figure Abu Anas al-Iraqi, a member of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's inner circle, in a Jan. 8 raid in Syria.
It also notes the Jan. 10 State Department terrorist designation of British national Alexanda Amon Kotey, a member of ISIS' four-person execution cell dubbed “The Beatles.”
Kotey, who remains at large and is believed to be in Syria, is accused of capturing and beheading nearly two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News that naming Kotey as a Specifically Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) notified the United States and international community that Kotey is “actively engaged in terrorism.”
“The consequences of this designation includes a prohibition against U.S. persons from generally engaging in transactions or dealings with Kotey, and the freezing of all of Kotey’s property and interests in property in the United States, or within the United States or the possession or control of U.S. persons,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News in an email.
The report cites numerous terrorism incidents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and warns that major security weaknesses continue to leave European countries more vulnerable to attack and put U.S. interests overseas at risk.
The report, compiled by the Homeland Security Committee's Republican majority staff, is based on information taken from media reports, publicly available government data and documents, and nongovernmental assessments.