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Troubling Trends: Homegrown Radicals and al-Qaeda

Interviewer: Ed Husain, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewee: Mitchell Silber, Director, NYPD Intelligence Division
December 20, 2011

The threat of al-Qaeda is diminished but law enforcement officials remain concerned at the ability of radicals in the United States to connect with the terror group, says Mitchell Silber, director of the New York Police Department's Intelligence Division. Silber tells CFR's Ed Husain of three main trends involving radicalized individuals in the United States and Europe who wish to plot an attack:

  • They can try to travel abroad to join the remnants of al-Qaeda;
  • They can travel to hot-spots like Yemen, Somalia, or places in Pakistan, and join an al-Qaeda affiliate or ally;
  • They can remain at home "because they're able to get the capabilities here in the West without going abroad."

Silber adds: "The radicalization problem is one that happens in the weeds at the local level, so the solutions to that are also going to be found at the local level." Silber emphasizes that it is critical that de-radicalization programs be organic and have buy-in from credible local leaders.


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