Homegrown Terrorism: Threats and Solutions

Guest Blogpost

By Esther Grace Ehrenman

11 May 2015.

On April 19, authorities arrested 6 young Somalis who attempted to get false passports for the purpose of traveling to Somalia and joining IS.1 This is hardly an isolated instance of homegrown terrorism. Since 2007, almost 24 Somali men have journeyed from Minnesota to Somalia to aid the efforts of terrorist groups. Attorney General Eric Holder states, “The ultimate solution to this is to make sure that the young men [and women] who might be attracted to that siren song have to be dealt with.”2

Ever since the 1990s, over 100,000 Somalis have found refuge in the United States. One major area of concentrated immigrants is in Minnesota. Today, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area houses about 75,000 Somali immigrants. Celebrating diversity and championing the worth of the American dream is a worthy cause. However, not all immigrants become integrated into society. As a result of discontent among young Somali immigrants, they are tempted to join IS.3 Not only young men, but also young women join IS. Homegrown terrorism, a sad but growing phenomenon, presents a policy challenge to the US.

The best solution for the US is to seek to integrate restless young immigrants into society. One of the major reasons for radicalization is a feeling of isolation. Ideally, instead of feeling isolated, young people would be motivated to participate in US politics instead of fighting against the US. Cultural isolation or hostility toward immigrants and youth radicalizes them against the US. Homegrown terrorism can be at least partially addressed with tolerance and inclusion, as well as keeping careful watch over demographics that are vulnerable to radicalization.

1 Kevin Johnson and John Bacon, “Six Arrested in Anti-Terrorism Sweep, Latest in a String of Such Cases.” 20 April 2015. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/19/federal-agents-terror-sweep-minneapolis-san-diego/26054419/

2 Scott Horsley, “U.S. Communities Called On to Prevent Homegrown Terrorism.” NPR. 18 February 2015. http://www.npr.org/2015/02/18/387131815/communities-called-on-to-help-prevent-home-grown-terrorism.

3 “Curbing Islamist Extremism.” The Economist. 9 May 2015. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21650536-why-young-midwestern-somalis-try-join-islamic-state-siren-song.

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About the author: Esther Grace, a rising senior, is studying government at Patrick Henry College. She has written for PHC’s international affairs journal for 3 years, been published in the “Harvard Gazette,” and plans to achieve her master’s degree at Harvard Extension School in International Relations. In her spare time, she runs, writes novels, and pretends to be a coffee connoisseur. 

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