Amid the ingoing stream of dire economic news it is easy to forget the threat that terrorism poses to the U.S. economy and by extension, the insurance industry.

The “January 2012 Terrorism Risk Briefing” from Risk Management Solutions Inc. (RMS) is a stark reminder. The report examines three topics, the homegrown terrorism threat in the United States, Al-Qaeda after the death of Anwar Awlaki and the bombing that rocked Nigeria on Christmas day.

As Al-Qaeda and its associated groups are weakened abroad, RMS expects them to leverage homegrown operatives in the U.S. “The political uprising that has swept through the Middle East and North Africa region, the demise of Al-Qaeda’s charismatic leader, Osama bin Laden, and the use of U.S. drone strikes to remove key Al-Qaeda agents have reduced the ideological and operational environment in which Al-Qaeda and its associated groups operate,” the report states. “In light of such a hostile environment, these groups have resorted to leveraging homegrown terrorism as an alternative method of executing their terrorist operations, particularly in the West.” 

Since these groups are highly decentralized and often involve a “lone wolf” operative, they are extremely difficult to identify and apprehend. Najibullah Zazi, who tried to bomb the New York City subway; Antonio Martinez targeting a Baltimore area military recruiting facility; and Faisal Shahzad, who attempted a car bomb in Times Square are all exemplars of this trend and perhaps an indication of where the risk is most concentrated. “Since most plots in the United States will likely involve homegrown jihadists in 2012, soft targets with a large volume of people and iconic values, such as hotels and mass transportation infrastructure, will be the more probable targets,” the report states. “Moreover, given the strong interest in attacks against aircrafts, it is expected that the groups will continue to seek ways to attack the aviation infrastructure.”

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