While the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is on the retreat in some parts of the Middle East, its reach in the Western world remains a serious threat.
A recent arrest in New Jersey shows just how vigilant the U.S. must remain.
Gregory Lepsky was arrested on Feb. 21 for attempting to provide material support to a known terrorist organization. He intended to build and detonate a pressure cooker bomb at an undetermined location in the Manhattan area of New York City.
This is the 95th Islamist-inspired terror plot or attack within the U.S. since 2001, and the second confirmed plot of 2017.
A 20-year-old native of New Jersey, Lepsky was initially arrested after a family member reported he was threating to kill the family dog. Lepsky was taken into custody at the family residence, after which he threatened to kill his mother who was not present.
During a lawful search of Lepsky’s room, local police discovered a bubble-wrapped pressure cooker and a book titled “Martyrdom in Jihad Versus Suicide Bombing.” Police also found the family dog—wounded, but alive.
Over the next several days, Lepsky confessed to police that he was working for ISIS, that he had communicated with ISIS through Facebook, and that he had planned to detonate a pressure cooker bomb at an area of mass gathering in New York City.
Through Facebook, Lapsky noted his aspiration to die as a martyr after converting to Islam. He also noted his affinity for ISIS through a number of direct text and Facebook messages.
During an investigation of Lepsky’s phone and internet search history, the FBI found approximately 3,340 internet searches for material relating to ISIS, terrorist attacks, beheadings, and bomb-making material between Jan. 14 and Feb. 4.
Lepsky’s terror plot is part of an ongoing trend of ISIS-inspired domestic terrorism. His is the 84th such plot or attack on U.S. soil that has had a homegrown element. Indeed, ISIS remains the most significant inspirer of Islamist-inspired domestic terror, and was behind many of the 29 other plots or attacks seen in 2015 and 2016.
While ISIS is losing ground in the Middle East, it remains a powerful and insidious force in the area of homegrown terror. The U.S. must remain vigilant in the face of extremists who seek to undermine free, prosperous societies such as our own.