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In the three thrillers to feature her heroic, crime fighting efforts, Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong has taken on everything from greedy industrialists to Mexican revolutionaries, to right-wing extremists. But Strong Vengeance pits her against her most dangerous, and real, adversary yet: homegrown Islamic terrorists.
“The biggest threat is no longer coming from the dusty landscape of Afghanistan or the mountains of Pakistan border regions. Instead, experts say, the threat now comes from within our own borders, in the form of homegrown terrorists.”
In September of 2010, the same Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group responsible for that quote wrote that, “a key shift in the past couple of years is the increasingly prominent role in planning and operations that U.S. Citizens and residents have played in the leadership of al-Qaida and aligned groups, and the higher numbers of Americans attaching themselves to these groups.”
FACT: Since 9/11 there have been 43 homegrown violent jihadist plots or attacks in the United States.
FACT: Between May, 2009 and November 2010 alone, 22 arrests were made of homegrown terrorists involved in jihadist-inspired plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents.
FACT: In 2010 the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University noted, “a spike in domestic terrorism and attacks by American citizens directed from overseas are top concerns for police departments across the country.”
FACT: 9/11 Commission Member Bruce Hoffman recently said, “The United States has failed to fundamentally understand and prepare for these threats. Terrorists may have found our Achilles’ heel. We have no strategy to deal with this growing problem and emerging threat.”
In Strong Vengeance, Caitlin finds herself racing to stop a homegrown terrorist cell from unleashing an attack based on another headline-ripped subject: the explosion of a massive “dirty bomb” composed of nuclear waste material. One study of potential terrorist tactics has identified such waste as a prime source for a potential radiological weapon. And a watchdog organization, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), charged that “security at U.S. nuclear weapons complexes was inadequate and that hundreds of tons of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium could be stolen, sabotaged, or even detonated.”
We need look no further than the devastating effects wrought by the damaged Japanese reactor in the wake of last year’s tsunami to see what such a radiological attack would look like, only on a much more massive scale. That’s what Caitlin Strong is up against in Strong Vengeance in fiction and what the United States may soon be up against in fact.