Homeland Security Committee: U.S. Top Target for ISIS-Linked Terrorism Plots

By Jeannette Richard | July 21, 2016 | 4:06pm EDT
House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- The United States is the “top target” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has directed or inspired 101 terrorism plots against Western countries since its rise in 2013, according to a report released Wednesday by the majority staff of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“ISIS has now been linked to 100+ attack plots against Western countries—an unprecedented wave of terror,” the report, entitled Terrorism Gone Viral, noted.

Forty-one of those plots (40 percent) targeted the United States, its citizens, and its presence overseas - the highest number directed against any particular country, and more than double the number of plots against France, the next most targeted country, the committee report stated.

However, the three highest-casualty attacks - in Paris (480 casualties) last November, Brussels (335) in March, and Nice last week (286) - have all occurred in Europe during the last nine months.

“ISIS terrorists have reached an alarming and horrific milestone, continuing their unprecedented pace of global terror. Never before have we seen so many jihadist plots against the West in such a short period of time,” said Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

"What’s worse, our communities have now become the battleground, and our enemies are hiding in plain sight. ISIS has remotely radicalized operatives to carry out attacks, including right here in the homeland, and they are increasingly dispatching their own operatives for deadlier and more complex plots,” he continued.

“This is the consequence of our failure to take the fight to the enemy overseas. And it should be a wake-up call that we need to get serious about destroying ISIS—not eventually, but immediately.”

The terrorism plots are becoming more frequent, more successful, and more deadly, the committee report showed.

There have been 38 terrorism plots against Western targets already this year, including seven in July so far, compared to 48 total in 2015 and 19 in 2014.

The seven terror plots uncovered this month included three thwarted attacks on American soil, including an alleged plot by a teenager in Tucson who is charged with asking a terrorist group in Pakistan for instructions on how to make a pressure cooker bomb for an attack on government facilities in Arizona.

Although many of the plots are disrupted by law enforcement before they can be carried out, ISIS-linked terrorist plots are becoming more successful, with "an alarmingly high" 56 percent success rate, the committee reported, up from 31 percent in 2015.

And the number of people who were killed or injured in terrorist attacks so far this year (875) is more than the total number of victims (750)  in 2014 and 2015 combined, the congressional report states.

In addition, the casualty counts mount with each successive year. The average number of casualties per attack rose from three in 2014 to 58 in 2016.

“The majority of plots appear to have been masterminded by individuals who were inspired by ISIS, rather than those who worked with the terrorist organization directly or enlisted in one of its safe havens,” it continued, adding that “so-called ‘lone wolves’ are not always operating alone.”

For example, two “homegrown extremists were recently charged in the United States for planning separate terrorist attacks, one in Virginia and the other in Ohio. Authorities found that in both plots, the suspects had actually been directed by ISIS operatives in Syria.”

ISIS directed 47 percent of the terrorism plots in 2016, up from 35 percent in 2015, while 53 percent were “inspired” by the radical Muslim terrorist group.

ISIS is successfully ‘crowd-sourcing’ its terrorism agenda,” the report stated.

The vast majority of the plots have been planned and carried out by military-aged men. Eighty-nine percent of suspected terrorists are male, with an average age of 26 years, the congressional report stated.

The attackers, who were often radicalized online, carried out their plans using vehicles, bombs, explosives, knives, guns, and even an axe wielded by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee on a train in Germany, the report noted.

In May, a message purportedly from ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed Al-Adnan called on ISIS followers throughout the world to attack their communities to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

“The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night,” he reportedly proclaimed.

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