E.D. HILL: Steve Emerson, author of several books on terrorism, believes these isolated strikes are actually part of Bin Laden's plan. Emerson calls it Al Qaeda 2.0.
STEVEN EMERSON: Al Qaeda 2.0 is, is really the next generation of Al Qaeda inspired fighters, jihadists, who aren't directly controlled by Bin Laden.
HILL: Now the special is called Jihad USA: Homegrown Terror. It airs Saturday at 9pm Eastern and again Sunday evening. My guest now is Steve Emerson, author of the compelling book American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us. Steve, thanks for being with me.
EMERSON: Sure E.D.
HILL: You sure helped me out with on this special. And we tried to help people put together almost a puzzle. After many of these various attacks around the country; plans for attacks, the authorities seemed to come out and say, "it's some isolated nut. Ah, these are kids, wacky kids, they do stupid things. They'd never follow through with it, or people who may have gone to a terrorist training camp but they really didn't intend to do anything." So how serious is the threat from homegrown extremists?
EMERSON: You know, I think that you basically hit the nail on the head here. Authorities have denigrated the seriousness of some of these threats and some of the motivations behind it. Including the kid, the graduate student at the University of North Carolina who drove his SUV into a bunch of other graduate students to avenge the crimes against Allah. He was not in charge with carrying out an act of terrorism and yet it was terrorism. The Fort Dix of course, plot was an act of terrorism. The media made light of the Miami 7. I think what we are seeing is a slow jihad, sort of churning beneath the system in the United States where Islamic groups are basically fanning the flames of hatred against the U.S. by claiming that the U.S. has engaged a War against Islam. And that is the single most incendiary factor in motivating young men to carry out acts of terrorism. We do not know when they will occur, but they're not taking orders from Bin Laden, but certainly motivated by their hatred of the U.S.
HILL: And what is shocking is how many of the people that have been uncovered in various alleged plot are us. They're Americans. They're born here, they're raised here. They, one in fact lived in New York City and yet these are people who hate America so much that they allegedly will try, wanted to try to kill Americans. Although what they are presented as is something completely different. Take the paintball Jihad case. Explain that one a bit.
EMERSON: Well here are a bunch of about a dozen men; half of them who were converts, Americans who converted to Islam who trained every weekend under paintball, with paintball exercises but they were actually training for Jihad with the intention of carrying out a war against the United States when called upon. And some of them actually went to India to practice their shooting against Indian troops. But some of them were convicted for waging war against the United States and they were white Caucasian Americans who hated this country and who had converted. And I think we're seeing more and more of that. Obviously the spokesperson for Bin Laden, Adam Gadahn, was a white young man from Southern California.
HILL: Do you think as some argue, that these are people who, yeah they may hate America even though they're Americans, and they may talk about killing us, but they really wouldn't follow through with it when push comes to shove, they wouldn't do it?
EMERSON: I think E.D., that there is a, what I call a large body of people that I call cultural jihadists. They're not willing to pull the trigger or pull the pin on a hand grenade, but they are willing to applaud those who do. And out of that pocket, that large constituency, come the actual military jihadists. So I think you need that larger environment which does exist in certain pockets in the United States and fanned by the statements made by some of these mainstream Islamic groups that there's a war against Islam when there really is just a war against radical Islam.
HILL: Alright, Steve Emerson, thank you very much.
HILL: And people can hear from you and a number of our other experts because there is a controversy. Some say that this is absolutely nothing to be worried about. These are isolated cases, no connection, yeah they may be Muslim but that has nothing to do with really what the alleged crimes were. Others say no, this is a threat, and its a threat that we are being way too complacent about. We aren't putting the pieces together. So you'll hear from both sides, you can make up your own mind. It is fascinating, it is frightening and you can see Jihad USA: Homegrown Terror, Saturday night 9pm Eastern. Again Jihad USA.