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The Threat Today

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The New York Times’ landing page at this hour has in its number one story position a “study” that shows, according to the Times, “Homegrown Radicals More Deadly Than Jihadis in U.S.”  Reporter Scott Shane doesn’t twist anything, and I don’t have the time or inclination to review the study’s review and assessment of the various attacks it lumps as “right wing attacks” in the comparison to jihadi attacks.

The point is that the study excludes 9/11, excludes the foiled plots, excludes the wounded at the Boston Marathon and elsewhere, and excludes the Americans killed abroad by jihadis.  In short, for whatever reason the study simply downplays the jihadi threat as it has existed and continues to exist today.

The new ISIS video is inconvenient to the study’s point, so it is buried far below the top of the landing page —go and look for yourself— and also inconvenient are the increasingly dire warnings from American officials like Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Committee on Intelligence.

I was sitting across the table from Nunes when he made those comments, seated next to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius waiting for the panel segment to begin following John Dickerson’s interview with Nunes.  At the conclusion of the Nunes interview, Ignatius and I looked at each other because he, like me, covers the Islamist threat and what we had just heard was chilling because we understood what it meant coming from Nunes.  We were focused and could not miss the import of Nunes’ warning.  And that is the problem with “the study” and the placement on the Times’ website and the below-the-folding of the ISIS video.

Even as Iran turns POYUS upside down and shakes the nickels from his pocket in the “nuclear talks,” ISIS is growing and metastasizing across a huge space full of resources, and, as General Stanley McChrystal told me in studio two weeks ago, making 100 million social media contacts a day.  Whatever the study’s point, it is beside the point compared to any honest evaluation of the near, medium and long-term threat from Islamist terror.  The Times’ placement of its story on the study is part of a collective turning-away from the realities of the world which will itself be part of the story of the aftermath of the next terrorist attack, much as the silence of the Charleston killer’s “friends” is a part of the aftermath of that horrific chapter in the book of violence.

There is a reason why The Great War of Our Time by former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell isn’t about domestic terror from white supremacists. (Read or listen to that interview as well.)  Confusion about the deadliest threats gets you killed.  Of course law enforcement needs to find and stop domestic terrorists, but they represent a tiny slice of the threat that radical Islamists do.


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