Of all US al Qaeda linked terrorist attacks 54% were American citizens

henry_jackson_report_fxA new report by the Henry Jackson Society reveals that the Islamist terrorist threat comes significantly from within the United States, not just from without.

According to the new report, Al-Qaeda in the United States, of the 171 al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists who either committed acts of suicide terrorism in the U.S. or were convicted in U.S. civilian or military courts from 1997 to 2011, 54% were American citizens, and more than a third were born in the United States.

The researchers found, “Among those residing in the U.S., the state of New York featured most prominently, with 14% of individuals living there. Outside of New York, the two most common states of residence were Florida (11%) and New Jersey (9%).”

Two of the three most common states – Florida and New Jersey – were the place of residence for a significantly high amount of non-U.S. born individuals (18% and 14% respectively). Conversely, the most common state, New York, had a higher proportion of U.S. born AQRO perpetrators residing there than non-U.S. born individuals.

“Moreover, 36% of all individuals were U.S. born, indicating that these were citizens who had grown up in the U.S. rather than having moved there later in life. Therefore, this statistic dispels the myth that the terrorist threat is primarily external.”

The conclusions include:

  • The majority of individuals who committed AQROs were young, educated men. 57% of perpetrators were aged under 30, and were most likely to have been aged between 20 and 24 years (33% of perpetrators). A total of eight women (5%) were convicted of AQROs between 1997 and 2011, two for their roles supporting their partners in the commission of AQROs.
  • Of all 171 individuals responsible for AQROs, nearly a quarter (23%) were known converts to Islam. As a proportion of their overall involvement, converts committed more AQROs than non-converts in eight of the fifteen years studied.
  • Of offenses committed by religious converts, 31% were by Active Participants, compared to 39% of offenses committed by non-religious converts.
  • The vast majority (97%) of the 155 AQROs that have led to successful convictions (the total of 174 AQROs excluding the nineteen suicide hijackers from September 11, 2001) were prosecuted in federal courts. 3% of all convictions have taken place in a military court. Nearly two thirds (65%) of those convicted of AQROs pleaded guilty, and the single most common category was a sentence of between 10 and 14 years.
  • Nearly half (47%) of those who committed AQROs attended training camps for terrorist purposes. Of those who received training, the most popular location was Afghanistan (68% of those who trained did so here), followed by Pakistan (29%). Therefore, 97% of individuals who had received terrorist training had trained in either Afghanistan, Pakistan, or both.

To read the full report click here.

The Henry Jackson Society is a British-based think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues. The authors, Robin Simcox and Emily Dyer, are research fellows at the Henry Jackson Society.