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More Homegrown Jihadists in Germany
It is interesting to note that
two of the three suspects arrested in Germany
for a possible plot were homegrown _jihadists,_ not foreigners.

This points to the growing trend before toward self-starting individuals who feel they must act on behalf of al Qaeda, without necessarily ever coming into contact with the mother ship of the organization.

These self-starting groups that come from within their own population are far harder to detect that foreigners who may stand out.

Being converts, they are often more radical than the local population, either because they were recruited in a radical environment, they feel the need to prove they are worthy of their new religion, or any number of reasons.

The arrests also highlight the dangers posed by websites, often in the United States, that offer instruction in how to wage individual strikes against high-profile targets. These sites provide not only instructions but also motivational messages to encourage the person to act.

Self-starting groups offer weaknesses as well as strengths.

While the number of actors and potential actors proliferates, the level of skill is often low and the chances of dealing with the groups rises.

Most of the known homegrown groups have still traveled to Pakistan or Afghanistan (now, perhaps Iraq), for spiritual guidance and training. This affords opportunities to follow travel leads that develop.

The German _jihadis_ were initially placed under surveillance because they were spotted casing targets, something that more professional groups would likely do more carefully. They must amass the supplies they need in small groups, making suspicious transactions easier to detect.

In addition, more hierarchical structures can learn lessons, reflect on failed actions and adapt to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Individual groups, however, seldom have a chance to conduct successful "after-action" reports. Either they are dead or they are captured, and in either case are largely neutralized for future actions.

But there is a great strength in the decentralized operations. Creative people can think far outside the box, and devise new methods and areas of attack that an organized structure might not adopt or accept.

There is little communication that can be intercepted because the groups do not need to receive instructions, can finance themselves, and the stopping of one group will not necessarily have any impact in stopping other small groups from acting. The groups can strike whenever they see a target of opportunity, rather than waiting for an order to act.

This is a new world, the world of starfish and not spiders. How we adapt will determine how successful we are in avoiding future attacks like 9-11 or worse.

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