Peter Bergen in this volume sets out to explore the cases of “homegrown” Islamic terrorism. He looks both at individuals who have been motivated to leave the US to join up with a foreign group such as ISIS and at those who become the “lone wolves” who have no connection to a foreign terrorist organization but are motivated by al-Qaeda’s ideology to attack their own soil.
The work, which is comprehensively end noted, is a thorough study of the issue. He explores on a case by case basis the rise and extent of the phenomenon. Despite my interest in the subject, the author provides information that I was unaware of in each case. The news media tends to tire of a story long before all information is developed.
He makes several salient points. Many of the recruits, like other young people, have a desire to belong to something greater than themselves. He also notes that although we have made it hard for bad guys to enter the country, we cannot prevent their message from entering electronically. He notes the frustration of our antiterrorism groups by pointing out that while the existence following an event that information was out there is damning there is no downside to issuing as many warnings as one likes.
He concludes that even in the best case, the US will be left with a persistent low-level threat that may last for many, many years before it dies.
I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who seeks an understanding of the world and our relationship to it.