CAMPBELL BROWN: A frightening terror plot is being uncovered. And what may be most disturbing is that all of the suspects arrested so far, anyway, live right here in the U.S. Authorities say these are among the eight people who plotted "violent jihad" overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI says it has broken up a violent ring of homegrown terrorists, arresting seven men from North Carolina. Alleged ringleader Daniel Patrick Boyd and all but one of the other suspects are American citizens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They never came close to carrying out any kind of an attack, but seven North Carolina men are in custody today, after the FBI busted their dreams to commit jihad overseas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They include this man, Daniel Boyd, and his two sons. The investigators say Boyd attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and recruited the others to train with him in North Carolina. There were no known targets in the U.S.
BRAD GARRETT, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It's a huge problem in the United States, the recruitment both into radical jihadist movements as well as homegrown terrorists who want to attack us here in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, tonight, the search continues for the eighth suspect, whose name is being withheld. So, the big question tonight, how big is the threat from homegrown terrorists?
And we've got terrorism expert Steve Emerson, the executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, joining us tonight from Washington. Here in New York with me, R.P. Eddie. He was director of global issues for the White House National Security Council under Bill Clinton.
Welcome to both of you guys.
Steve, let me start with you on this. And just talk specifically a little bit about this group. What do we know about them? How much danger do you think they really did pose?
STEVEN EMERSON: Well, the group was instigated by Daniel Patrick Boyd, who had fought himself in the Afghan jihad against the Soviets in the late '80s, early '90s. That's where he got his training.
He became a Muslim, converted. The pictures that are now being seen are really reflective of his high school graduation pictures. He actually has a long beard, became very orthodox in the fundamentalist way, and began teaching his children, as well as friends, that jihad was a necessary way of conducting behavior overseas.
Now, he plotted together with seven other people ways to carry out suicide bombings in Israel, as well as attacks in Jordan, Pakistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere. He also raised money to teach youngsters as well as other would-be recruits how to carry out jihad in the United States. That is he trained them in the U.S. to carry out jihad outside the U.S. and that's the danger here.
And I think the reason why they wrapped up the case at this point was that they were thwarted in carrying out jihad overseas and with the arsenal that they had collected, a massive arsenal, they believed the U.S. was an infidel country that could be targeted. They all swore allegiance to martyrdom, Campbell, and that meant that they were prepared to die in the course of carrying out suicide bombings.
Therefore, the possibility existed that they would train their ire on the United States and carry out attacks here.
BROWN: All right, let me just add an allegedly there, Steve. They have only been arrested at this stage. But we will see where this takes us.
And let me just – R.P., we have seen these Islamic radicals arrested across the country from New York to Miami to Portland, Oregon, now. How severe do you think the problem is? And are we – to me, we in the media are often very dismissive of this, and then think, these are just a bunch of whack jobs, and we're not paying a whole lot of attention to it. Are we making a huge mistake?
R.P. EDDY: Right. Yes. So, there's two big issues you raise. The first is, what kind of threat are we really seeing from inside our own country? And the answer is that it's real. It's been around since before 9/11. It's different than the type of threat that actually hit us on 9/11, which was an external coming inside, but there are threats inside of this country.
And you mentioned a number of cases. There are many others, as we both know. Then you get to the issue of, are these guys just jokers? Is the threat real? Need we be concerned. The answer there is, I think we do, and I think a lot of criticism that these cases aren't real and should be ignored or not taken that seriously is entirely wrong, because it's much easier to commit a terrorist attack than most people believe.
And many of these plots or many of these groups are much more advanced than we tend to give them credit for. So, these are very real threats.
The last point I would make is we have also seen homegrown threats, of course, across Europe, across Asia. And those attacks have been successful. Why would we think that wouldn't happen here?
BROWN: Do you agree with that, Steve? Are we ignoring these guys and these incidents at our own peril?
EMERSON: I think we are very dismissive. I think, first of all, this story itself didn't get as much play because it didn't happen in New York or Washington.
Number two, the plots were designed to be carried out outside the U.S. But these were determined, convinced, and very, very violent jihadists, allegedly, according to the indictment. We will hear more at the sentencing on Thursday.
But certainly if you look at Lodi, California, you look at Fort Dix, New Jersey, you look at Upstate New York just a couple of weeks ago, where several – four Muslims plotted to blow up two synagogues and shoot down a National Guard plane, we see homegrown terrorists now who are Muslims who converted to Islam either in prison or in the community or are indigenously Muslim who believe that jihad is OK to carry out, either here in the U.S. or more likely outside the U.S.
But they use the U.S. as a base. And it's illegal to do that, and it shouldn't be allowed, because ultimately if you're prepared to carry out a suicide bombing in let's say Israel, you're a stone's throw away from carrying out one in the United States.
R.P., I read the authorities were tracking this group for three years. Are we giving them the tools they need, FBI, law enforcement? Are we devoting enough resources to this given that as you said we're not really paying that much attention? Is our government is paying attention on – for us?
EDDY: I think absolutely we are not giving it enough resources. So, we think about the resources we put into the war on terror, an immense amount of blood and treasure is going overseas to Afghanistan, Iraq, and with the CIA around the world and other issues.
Internally, the only organization that's really capable of working on this in the United States is the FBI.
EDDY: And the numbers get down to maybe there's 2,000, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 FBI agents working on this in the U.S. and that's not enough.
Now, what we do have in this country of course are a million police officers, all of whom who have local intelligence. They know their neighborhoods. They know what's out of place. They're not being asked and they're not being or equipped or trained or – really equipped or trained to deal with this threat. And that's something that needs to be worked on and it's a great resource available to us.
And the stories go on and on. Some of the cases that we were mentioning earlier actually were thwarted by police working with the FBI.
EDDY: But the police need to be a big solution here and they need to being more seriously that...
BROWN: It's pretty terrifying stuff. All right, Steve Emerson joining us from Washington, again, R.P. Eddy here with me here in New York, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.