It is only a matter of time before a Paris-style coordinated terror attack comes to the streets of America, experts say, citing the fact the Islamic State is far more gruesomely efficient than even al Qaeda and is attracting hundreds of committed U.S. followers.
The experts also point to the growing number of attacks stopped by the FBI, and local authorities, in the planning stages. Police cannot foil all of them as the two-terrorist Boston Marathon bombing showed.
“They spend 30 hours daily thinking of ways to bring the pain to the ‘great Satan,’ ” said Robert Maginnis, a former Army officer who wrote a book on radical Islam, “Never Submit.”
ISIL has directed 17 terror plots in the United States since early 2014, according to the House Homeland Security Committee. There are already more homegrown terrorists plots this year than any full year since the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks.
Perhaps proof that the Islamic State’s call for mass murder is reaching Americans is the number of homegrown violent extremists or HVEs. The National Counter Terrorism Center said there were scant two in 2009. But last year, the number of carried out or disrupted plots by HVEs grew to 12, and this year it ballooned to two dozen.
“Since the Mumbai attacks in India this type of coordinated attack has been the scenario law enforcement has dreaded the most in terms of the non-weapons of mass destruction possibilities,” said Jeffrey Addicott, who directs the Center for Terrorism Law in San Antonio, Texas. “It has come to the West, and in an open society, it is very difficult to prevent when the assailants are willing to die.”
Mr. Addicott, author of the new book “Radical Islam Why?” is referring to the 2008 attacks by Pakistani Islamic extremists across Mumbai that killed 164 people.
ISIL carried out that blueprint on Friday, terrorizing Paris’ nightlife of sports, concerts and restaurants.
The Sunni Muslim Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, has dramatically demonstrated in just the past month it can project mass death outside its base in Syria.
It brought down a Russian airliner over the Sinai in Egypt and sent suicide bombers into a crowded Shiite market in a Beirut, Lebanon, suburb. And then on Friday, it executed one of the worst terror attacks ever, unleashing eight bomb- and gun-wielding assassins at five Paris locations, killing over 100.
“What happened in Paris and is sweeping across much of Western Europe will eventually come to American shores,” Mr. Maginnis said. “We must get serious before it is too late. This terror must be dealt with and stopped before it grows and it will.”
In the long business of terrorism, ISIL has put in place a first-ever, far-reaching social media operations to spew propaganda and recruit Americans and other Westerners to Syria. Its tweets and other messaging urge U.S. Muslims to start killing people. And, with widely available off-the-shelf encryption apps developed in Silicon Valley, ISIL sheiks can conduct secure communications that even the National Security Agency cannot penetrate.
“ISIL has used that ubiquitous social media to break the model and push into the United States onto the mobile devices of troubled souls throughout our country in all 50 states a twin message. Come or kill,” FBI Director James Comey told Congress. He said the bureau is actively investigating ISIL members in all 50 states.
“Come or kill” means come to Syria or stay in the States and murder people.
Mr. Comey, at a House Homeland Security hearing last month, talked of a “surge” in terror investigations that forced him to move agents off criminal cases onto national security.
“Following somebody 24/7 without them knowing you’re there is really hard,” he said.
“Radical Islamists are recruiting online across borders and at broadband speed,” Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said last month. “And the impact is being felt worldwide. … The pace of terror plotting is unprecedented, unrivaled even by al Qaeda at its peak.”
ISIL’s magazine, Dabiq, writes of a goal of moving some type of weapon of mass destruction through the porous Mexican border into the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security acknowledges that a portion of the illegal immigrants stopped at the Mexican border are not Latino, but people from Asia, Africa and the Middle east.
“Paris could well have been New York, and will be again one terrible day,” said Danielle Pletka, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “In the end, there must be something to replace the ideology of ISIS and al Qaeda that have become so magnetic in the Islamic world. But military defeat is the prelude to a political solution, or there will be no political solution that lasts.”
Jeh C. Johnson, the Homeland Secretary secretary, said Friday night that, “At this time, we know of no specific or credible threats of an attack on the U.S. homeland of the type that occurred in Paris tonight.”