Connecticut. Queens. North Bergen, New Jersey. Isolation, failure, plus a belief that Islam is being persecuted, can lead to a volatile terrorism cocktail mixed right in the city’s backyard.

 

Carlos Eduardo Almonte and Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, the two N.J. suspects caught trying to join al-Shabaab in Somalia, are described by the few friends they had as loners who spent most of their time playing video games.

 

“Everyone tried to help this kid,” an official at a school Alessa attended told the Bergen Record. “He’s just an angry young man.”

 

“These people have other problems, in their families, their society,” said Brigitte Nacos, a Columbia University professor. “They take the idea that Islam is under attack, and mix it with personal problems.”


Failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was losing his home. Would-be subway bomber Najibullah Zazi was $50,000 in debt.


“In homegrown terrorism you’re more likely to find the loners, or an issue of psychological disturbance,” said Dr. Charles Strozier, a psychologist and director of the John Jay College Center on Terrorism.