- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2006

The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is warning that “self-radicalized” terrorists from Europe, with no criminal records and no formal links to al Qaeda, are quietly infiltrating the United States to proselytize, raise money and possibly plan attacks.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Minnesota Republican, said that the United States has to quickly adapt to the ever-changing threat if it is going to win the global war against Islamic extremism.

Terrorists coming to the United States from Western Europe “are difficult to identify because they are self-radicalized,” Mr. Hoekstra told the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) at a breakfast meeting with reporters Wednesday.

“They may have no formal association with al Qaeda, no criminal record. There’s nothing in their past to draw the attention of law-enforcement officials to the individuals,” he said.

He released a committee report titled, “Al Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat,” which described how the nature of the threat has changed against the United States since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The war is now one against entities inspired by al Qaeda, including homegrown terrorist cells composed of second- and third-generation radicalized Muslims in the United States, the report says.

“Radical Islam has changed the way that it operates,” Mr. Hoekstra said. “Al Qaeda has moved into a decentralized entrepreneurial organization.”

He said that by setting out a clear vision, objectives and providing resources, al Qaeda has empowered its appendages “to carry out actions independent of centralized control and then get out of the way.”

“They develop a very simple message [that] is appealing to the young generation of Muslims,” Mr. Hoekstra said. “They keep their message simple and they keep it consistent.”

The intelligence committee chairman insisted that the United States has to overhaul its approach on the war against Islamic terrorists and learn to be as nimble and adaptable as its enemies.

AEI foreign policy analyst Michael Ledeen argued that al Qaeda is not as all-powerful as Mr. Hoekstra suggested.

“They are not 10-feet tall, and they are not that terrific,” Mr. Ledeen said.

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