Though the U.S. is not immune to the grass-roots extremism that has inspired attacks in Europe, the inclusiveness of American society may help against radical Islam’s spread here, intelligence officials said Thursday.
Philip Mudd, a senior official in the FBI’s National Security Branch, termed the U.S. domestic threat a “Pepsi jihad”—an outgrowth of extremism he said has spread among young people over the past 15 years and has been popularized by the Internet.
Dipping into subject matter that is unusual for intelligence professionals, Mudd and CIA Director Michael Hayden agreed that the United States needs to preserve its melting-pot heritage to help reduce the threat.
The country’s history as an immigrant nation and its “experience with bringing in various groups and giving them, frankly, more opportunity than they might have elsewhere has helped us immeasurably” in dampening extremism, Hayden said.
The assessment came during the intelligence leaders’ wide-ranging annual review of global threats before the House Intelligence Committee. Five top intelligence officials covered issues from Iran and Iraq to government eavesdropping and al-Qaida.