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On Feb. 20, a Web site catering to Islamic extremists posted an audiotape supposedly from Osama bin Laden. The tape is thought to be a more comprehensive version of a communiqu� originally aired on Jan. 19 by the Arabic-language television station Al Jazeera. In typical fashion, bin Laden threatened future attacks and warned the United States that attack plans “are under preparation.” Less than two weeks later, his deputy and al-Queda’s second-in-command, Egyptian-born physician Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued his own warning. Despite a Jan. 13 missile attack in Damadola, Pakistan, that was designed to kill him, al-Zawahiri appears alive and well. It is not surprising that a contemporary discussion of homeland security and terrorism always includes references to al-Queda and its leaders. But the threats to our domestic security are more diverse than al-Queda. As the nation continues to strengthen homeland security and domestic preparedness-and Hurricane Katrina has underscored that preparedness involves natural threats as well as humanmade ones-it is important to remember that the terrorist component is both foreign and domestic and involves many organizations. Islamic extremists who do not have an allegiance to, or an affiliation with, al-Queda or any other terrorist network already operate throughout the Middle East, Europe and South Asia, and certainly in the United States. Moreover, their activities are blurring the line between organized terrorism and traditional street crime. In August 2005, law enforcement officials linked a rash of armed robberies at gas stations in Southern California to an alleged terrorist conspiracy to attack Jewish synagogues and Israeli government facilities, among other domestic targets. The federal indictment alleges that an inmate at a California prison masterminded the scheme. All of the men who stand accused in this “home grown” terror plot were either U.S. citizens or legal residents. Home-grown terrorist threats The objective of terrorism is the sowing of disorder and fear; this is scarcely the preserve of Islamic jihadists. Right-wing extremists and hate groups remain active throughout the United States. While law enforcement in the mid-1990s devoted considerable resources to identifying and understanding the threats that these groups posed, much of that attention was diverted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Some of these groups have thrived, spurred on by the Internet and its unique ability to spread the message and find recruits online. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 762 hate groups operating in the United States in 2004. The number of small cells, with no organization but capable of doing real damage, must be higher still. The model here is not al-Queda, but Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Their small cell, inspired by hate groups but not really a part of them, bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 and killed 168 people. Their objective was to strike as a “militia,” and in so doing, wreak “revenge” on the government. This impulse, and the inclination to make truck bombs, hardly died with McVeigh’s execution or Nichols’ imprisonment. Animal rights terrorists and environmental extremists often fly beneath the post-9/11 radar. As with al-Queda, individuals or small groups operating under the rubric of the Earth Liberation Front and affiliated organizations have burned housing developments and attacked industrial facilities they believe are ravaging nature. They have destroyed animal research facilities and years of medical data and “liberated” animals certain to die in the wild. On Jan. 20, a federal grand jury in Oregon returned a 65-count indictment against 11 defendants for allegedly perpetrating acts of domestic terrorism in five states from 1996 to 2001. According to the Department of Justice, “the group committed arsons with improvised incendiary devices . . . in a series of attacks . . . . The targets . . . included U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, Bureau of Land Management wild horse facilities, meat processing companies, lumber companies, a high tension power line, and a ski facility in Colorado.” Federal law gives authorities significant discretion to classify such acts as “domestic terrorism” under 18 U.S.C. 2331(5). Commenting on the indictments, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that “investigating and preventing animal rights and environmental extremism is one of the FBI’s highest domestic terrorism priorities.” In contrast to the bin Laden audiotape, however, few media outlets covered the domestic terrorism indictments. This sample hardly scratches the surface. While the recorded warnings of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri show no sign of diminishing, keeping the nation safe requires homeland security officials and the private sector to consider the broad spectrum of the terror threat. This is a perceptual challenge as much as an operational one, made even more daunting by the need to preserve our democratic way of life while protecting it. Steven Roberts, an NLJ columnist, is a homeland security consultant.

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