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Sageman: “These guys were radicalizing themselves.”

An article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times outlines the threats posed by small groups of terrorists living in the United States. This article appeared shortly after the New York Police Department released a report called Radicalization in the West:  The Homegrown Threat. Marc Sageman’s "bunch of guys" model appears to be a central component of the picture. Here’s an excerpt from the LA Times piece:

Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer and psychiatrist credited with articulating the "bunch of guys" concept, said when it comes to carrying out an attack, individual members "don’t have the courage to do it, but collectively they do."

Some of the alleged plotters, such as those in the Sears Tower and JFK airport cases — and even the 23-year-old Shareef — have been portrayed as bumblers. However, said the FBI’s Cummings: "It could be a fatal mistake to minimize the danger that guys like that pose. It takes very little in the way of skill to go out and murder somebody."

More than seven years ago Canadian authorities were watching a small group of Algerian men who seemed angry but so incapable of inflicting real harm that investigators dubbed them just a "bunch of guys."

Officials realized that they had underestimated the group when one of its members, Ahmed Ressam, was caught with a car trunk full of explosives that he intended to detonate at Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the 2000 millennium.

"The Canadians made a mistake. They didn’t know what was happening right in front of them. These guys were radicalizing themselves," said Sageman, author of the upcoming book "Leaderless Jihad."

The full artcile is available at