ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An al Qaeda cell striking again in the United States is always an active concern of the FBI.
But, the agency says there’s another growing threat — home-grown loners with extreme views, carrying out attacks like the one we saw in Norway, reports CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
Jared Loughner was charged with killing six people and shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in an Arizona pharmacy. Andres Behring Breivik stands accused in the massacre that left 68 dead at a youth camp in Norway. James Von Brunn, who opened fire in Washington’s holocaust museum, killed a security guard.
All three had one thing in common.
“The home-grown extremist, that person who becomes radicalized most often on the Internet and decides that individually they’re going to strike out,” said Michael Ward, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge in Newark.
Ward said it’s the radical, the loner his agency is concerned about more so than domestic extremist groups.
“Those individuals on the fringe that a part of these groups, who say, you know this group is not aggressive enough. The rhetoric is not strong enough. I want to do more,” Ward said.
Holding extreme beliefs is not illegal. It’s protected by the constitution. But it’s when those individuals cross the line that the FBI wants everyone to get involved.
“We really rely on the good sense of the public. If they see or hear something and it makes the hair on their back stand up, then it’s something we would be interested in,” Ward said.
Ward said the FBI begins investigations when it identifies a threat, like in the case of a militia group called the “Hutaree,” based in Michigan. Seven of its members were charged with plotting to kill law enforcement officials.
In that case it was another militia group that alerted authorities. The FBI said if you think something is not right make a phone call. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The FBI said it follows up on all credible tips.