Cases of homegrown terrorism in the United States spiked in December, marking the first rise in such incidents over a two-month span, according to a new House Homeland Security Committee report.
U.S. authorities arrested four individuals last month on charges of providing material support to the Islamic States, bringing to 150 the total number of cases related to homegrown terrorism since 2013, the committee found in its monthly Terror Threat Snapshot, citing data from the Majority Staff of the Homeland Security Committee.
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Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, said despite the collapse of ISIS's self-proclaimed "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, the group maintains the capability to conduct external operations and remains a "severe threat" to the United States and its western allies.
"Given the loss of its safe havens, ISIS has shifted its attention toward cyberspace to recruit, radicalize, and provide guidance and instructions for carrying out attacks," McCaul said in a statement. "In this new year, we must continue to work with our allies across the globe to crush ISIS fighters wherever they may be and defeat ISIS in cyberspace."
December marked the first attempted suicide bombing in the United States inspired by ISIS, when a Bangladeshi national living in New York City detonated a pipe bomb at a bus terminal near Times Square, wounding four including himself. Akayed Ullah, 27, told investigators he carried out the Dec. 12 attack on behalf of ISIS to avenge the deaths of Muslims across the world.
One day earlier, a Texas resident was arrested in Houston for attempting to provide material support to ISIS. The FBI arrested Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya, 18, after he offered bomb-making instructions to an undercover federal agent who was posing as a member of ISIS.
Violent extremists hoping to attack the United States from within remain a top concern for the FBI in 2018.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said homegrown extremists and lone wolf attackers who don't have direct ties to radical Islamist groups pose the greatest domestic terrorism threat to the United States. Wray reiterated to lawmakers in December that the bureau has roughly 1,000 pending domestic terrorism cases at any given time.