A year ago this week, the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed was heard throughout the world and headlines read that "justice had been served." To be sure, the death of bin Laden marked a major victory in the war on terrorism. It did not, however, mean that the war had been won.
Terrorists continue to seek to harm the United States and its people. Indeed , as my colleagues and I detail in a recent Heritage Foundation report, since bin Laden's death at least nine publicly known Islamist-inspired terror plots against the United States have been foiled, bringing the total number of foiled plots since 9/11 to at least 50. Of these, at least 42 could be considered homegrown terror plots---planned by American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized predominately in the United States.
With networks dismantled, training camps dispersed, and the leadership largely decimated, al-Qaeda has become more decentralized leading the terrorists group to not only rely more heavily on its affiliates, but turn towards other tactics. In this respect, homegrown terrorism may offer al-Qaeda numerous appeals. For one, homegrown terrorist actors can often more easily bridge the divide cultural and linguistic between the United States and the other regions of the world in which terrorist networks operate. They can also often more easily travel back and forth and work within the United States without raising suspicion.
One of the most important things the United States can, therefore, do is make sure the country maintain robust counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities to ensure the terrorists are stopped long before the public is ever in danger.
This week's anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden should serve as a reminder that we must remain vigilant.