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Following a series of terrorist attacks against the United States which culminated in the attacks of September 11th, 2011, the most pressing terrorist threat facing the country is that posed by Islamic Fascism, because it represents a diffuse, dedicated, and ongoing effort to attack the United States as frequently and destructively as possible, whether domestically or abroad. As a result, the United States government has dedicated substantial time and resources towards studying and confronting the threat posed by Islamic Fascism, but it remains a difficult task, not least of all because of the movement's diffuse, decentralized organization. When considering Islamic Fascism and the terrorism it encourages, one must confront the sometimes blurry boundary between domestic and international terrorism, as well as the way in which globalization has allowed money and resources to unite otherwise distant groups. Examining the establishment of Islamic terrorism in the United States reveals that it cannot be strictly viewed as an example of domestic terrorism, because even if lone actors perpetrate acts independent of any international coordination, the motivation behind those attacks is rooted in a transnational cause (as opposed to the more directly national motivations of truly domestic terrorist threats, such as the militia or sovereign citizen movements. Furthermore, this international/transnational ideology is supported and perpetuated by a network of similarly transnational organizations, whether semi-legitimate in the form of charities or obviously illegal in the form of drug trafficking and sale.
To understand how Islamic Fascism functions in the United States, it is first necessary to distinguish between domestic and transnational terrorism and subsequently demonstrate why Islamic terrorism represents a form of transnational terrorism, even when the perpetrators are American citizens acting without coordination with international groups. Perhaps the easiest way to see why Islamic terrorism in the United States should not be considered domestic terrorism is to consider the Federal Bureau of Investigation's brief definition of "the threat of domestic terror -- Americans attacking Americans based on U.S.-based extremist ideologies" (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). Though brief, the FBI's definition includes two parameters that must be met for something to qualify as domestic terror.
Firstly, the act must be an example of "Americans attacking Americans," and one can easily identify a number of cases in which Islamic terrorism perpetrated in the United States meets this requirement; two notable examples include the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2010, perpetrated by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen of Pakistani origin, and the killing of thirteen people at Fort Hood, of which Nidal Hasan, another American citizen, stands accused. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the attempted and successful Islamic terrorist attacks carried out by American citizens on American soil, but it is enough to demonstrate that based solely on the first parameter of the FBI's definition of domestic terror, Islamic terrorism would seemingly qualify.
However, the cases of Shahzad and Hasan, as well as other terror attacks planned or perpetrate by Americans against Americans in the name of Islam, do not fit the second parameter included in the FBI's definition of domestic terror, because they were not motivated by "U.S.-based extremist ideologies." It is important to note what is meant here by "U.S.-based," because one might be inclined to argue that because Islamic fundamentalism has found some foothold in the United States (even if only in single individuals), then it has subsequently become a "U.S.-based" ideology. In actuality, "U.S.-based" in this context means that the particular ideology relates to the United States itself; that is to say, the ideological framework in which the terror threat emerges deals specifically with the United States and views itself as inherently American.
In other words, domestic terror groups view themselves as part of the United States, even if they believe that they represent a "true" interpretation of what the country should be in contrast to the corrupted or illegitimate country that currently exists. In a perverse way, then, truly domestic terror groups do not view themselves as oriented against the United States, but rather against the institutions and practices that they view as anathema to the ideal United States. The most obvious examples of this include the militia movement and the sovereign citizen movement, which explicitly purport to represent a "correct" interpretation of the Constitution and the United States, but even domestic anarchist groups and eco-terrorists may be considered domestic terrorists, because their goals nevertheless operate on a domestic scale (U.S. DOJ, 2009). This is even true of certain militia groups that incorporate Christian beliefs into their ideology; even though Christianity represents a transnational ideology, these groups incorporate it within the larger context of the United States, under the belief that the United States should be an inherently Christian nation.
In contrast, so-called "homegrown Islamic extremists," while frequently being citizens and assimilating into everyday American life, "reject the cultural values, beliefs, and environment of the United States," to the point that actively oriented against the United States (Duyn, 2006). Ultimately the important difference between homegrown Islamic extremism and truly domestic terror groups is one of perspective. Domestic terror groups view themselves as operating inside their own rightful territory in an attempt to defeat what they view as an imposed, illegitimate authority.
Homegrown Islamic extremists, on the other hand, essentially view themselves as operating within enemy territory, against a sovereignty of which they are not a part. Thus, even if Islamic extremists planning or perpetrating terrorists acts on American soil are American citizens, this citizenship does not form any part of their ideology; it is merely an ancillary tool for the furtherance of their ideological goal, rather than a formative part of their identity. There are of course individuals who might be encouraged towards Islamic fundamentalism due to the perceived guilt associated with their citizenship, and thus their status as American citizens might be considered an integral part of their initial radicalization, but even in these cases their eventual radicalization results in an identification with a distinctly transnational ideology that transcends any national affiliation (Duyn, 2006).
The fact that Islamic terrorism in the United States is part of a larger transnational ideology is one reason it represents such a pernicious threat, because the disconnect between American identity and the terrorist ideology means that intervention prior to radicalization is especially difficult. In the case of domestic terror groups, it may be possible to forestall individuals' radicalization by appealing to those shared values that might dissuade an individual from taking up arms against his or her home country. For example, while American anti-government groups may view the current makeup of the United States government as illegitimate, there is at least some basic level of agreement on the desirability of the United States continuing to exist as a nation; indeed, many domestic terror groups consider their actions to be patriotic (U.S. DOJ, 2009).
In contrast, Islamic Fascism depends upon a religious identity that supersedes any national affiliation, making intervention more difficult. Research conducted by the FBI in the wake of 9/11 has found that the main avenues of radicalization are extremist imams, the internet, and prisons, with the latter two serving as a means of spreading the imams' influence (Duyn, 2006). Because Islamic Fascism is not rooted to any kind of ideology specific to the United States, there is little to no way to identity regions where extremism might be prevalent; instead, it can spring up anywhere, because an extremist imam based in one region of the country may be able to influence individuals anywhere through the internet. This is in contrast with truly domestic terror groups such as the militia movement, which by definition operates as closely coordinated units.
Comparing cases of homegrown Islamic terrorism with the FBI's definition of domestic terror reveals that Islamic Fascism in the United States cannot be considered domestic terrorism on a rhetorical or ideological level, but there is further evidence that demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Islamic terrorism in the United States functions as part of a larger transnational network. As discussed above, even lone actors must be considered part of a transnational ideology, because even if they have no actual contact or coordination with transnational groups, their ideology is strictly transnational in nature. Beyond these lone actors, however, there are instances of homegrown Islamic fundamentalists coordinating with international groups, and in this context, the transnational system of finance and support definitively demonstrates the inherently international character of Islamic Fascist ideology, and more of why it represents such a dangerous and growing threat.
The transnational system of financial support that contributes to Islamic Fascism in the United States can be viewed as running along two roughly parallel tracks that serve to augment each other. On the one hand are semi-legitimate organizations which exist to funnel resources to extremist groups while attempting to at least create the perception that they are conforming to relevant laws. These frequently exist in the form of charities, funneling funds to groups like al-Qaeda while ostensibly providing "humanitarian aid to Muslims around…[continue]
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