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Report: U.S. Must Deal With Domestic Radicals

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Report: U.S. Must Deal With Domestic Radicals

National Security

Report: U.S. Must Deal With Domestic Radicals

Report: U.S. Must Deal With Domestic Radicals

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There has been a big change in terrorism attacks in this country — U.S. citizens and residents are playing more of a role. A report being released Friday by a bipartisan group is expected to show the terrorism threat to the U.S. is much more complex and diverse than in the past.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has read it, and is here with details. Dina, you've been reporting on terrorism trends over the past couple of years. What's do you see in this report that seems new?

DINA TEMPLE: And what struck me about the report is that it says that the biggest threat against this country isn't a dirty bomb or a mass casualty attack; it's this homegrown terrorism. And that's both good news and bad news. Good news because fears of a chemical attack or a dirty bomb are probably overblown; bad news because homegrown terrorism is much harder to fight, because the people who might be plotting to attack us are actually among us and they're harder to spot.

WERTHEIMER: Does that mean - just to look beyond this country - that al-Qaeda is not a threat anymore?

TEMPLE: You know, the report also talks about something that's less obvious, which is that Muslim scholars and other groups are specifically saying that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have spilled too much blood and it should stop. That's all good news. The way terrorist groups die is they lose public support.

WERTHEIMER: But what about affiliate groups we keep hearing about, like al- Qaeda's arm in Yemen or the Taliban?

TEMPLE: The report says that al-Qaeda members should be seen, instead of just regular soldiers, as force multipliers. They're operating like U.S. Special Forces do, as trainers. You know, we've heard that the U.S. is stepping up its operation in Yemen. That means they've doubled their trainers from 25 to 50. When you look at it in that way, 50 to 100 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan can be a real threat.

WERTHEIMER: Thanks very much, Dina.

TEMPLE: You're very welcome.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston joined us from New York.

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