"There appears to be an increase in [terrorist] activity in the U.S.," warns Jenkins, who calculates that there have been 32 terror-related "events" on these shores since 9/11, and that 12 of those occurred in 2009. (See the top 10 inept terrorist plots.)
Some of the more noteworthy "events" of 2009:
• In January, Bryant Neal Vinas, a Long Island convert to Islam, plead guilty to helping al-Qaeda in a plot to blow up a train in Penn Station.
• Late in 2008, Shirwa Ahmed, a Somali-American college student from Minneapolis, became the first American suicide bomber on record when he killed 29 people in an attack in Somalia. Earlier in the year, the FBI had revealed that at least 20 Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area had traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, a radical militia tied to al-Qaeda. Five Somali-Americans are believed to have died in fighting there this year, and Somali officials say at least one more unnamed American citizen has become a suicide bomber on behalf of al-Shabab. (See pictures of a Jihadist's journey.)
• In June, Abdulhakim Muhammed, an Arkansas convert to Islam, was accused of killing one soldier and wounding another in an attack at a military recruitment center in Little Rock.
• In September, an Illinois man, Michael Finton, who converted to Islam in prison, was accused of trying to blow up a Federal building in Springfield.
• In October, David Coleman Headley, a Chicago businessman, was arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper that had published controversial cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammed. (Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian resident of Chicago was also arrested in connection with the same plot.) Headley was later additionally charged with abetting the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008. (Read "The Chicago Suspect: Are Pakistani Jihadis Going Global?.")
• In November, Maj. Nidal Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrants who had grown up in the U.S., was accused of going on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 30. (Read "The FBI Probe: What Went Wrong at Fort Hood?.")
• Also in November, eight Somali-American men from Minnesota were charged with terrorism-related counts involving al-Shabaab. Six other had been charged previously. Most of the men were charged in absentia because they remain in Somalia, along with dozens of Somali-Americans who are believed to have joined the Qaeda-linked militia.
• And earlier this month, five men from the Washington, D.C., area were detained in Pakistan, where local officials say they had been trying to join the fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Ramy Zamzam, said to be the leader of the group, is a Howard University dental student; two others are sons of businessmen.
• Some other cases involve legal residents who are not U.S. citizens, such as Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan suspect arrested in Denver and charged with a plot to bomb targets in New York, and Jordanian Hosam Smadi, arrested in Dallas, accused of trying blow up a skyscraper. (Read "Three Key Questions About Zazi and Terrorism.")
Terrorism experts and Muslim community leaders caution that the spurt in such events doesn't necessarily add up to a trend. For one thing, the cases are unconnected. "Each case has its own special circumstances," says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Nor is there likely to be wide-scale extremism in the American Muslim community. Jenkins points out that that there's "no underground network, and no deep reservoir of resentment." Hooper notes that the problem "is not coming from rhetoric within the community; it's not the case that young men are being radicalized in American mosques." Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1949329,00.html#ixzz0aipdUAOq