Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma explores the real and perceived threat of homegrown Islamic extremism in America today through first-hand accounts from those on the front lines of this battle — family members of convicted terrorists, those trying to persuade young people from embracing extremism, Muslim Americans facing fear and suspicion in their communities, victims of terrorist attacks, and insights from experts and prosecutors who worked homegrown terrorist cases. Among the questions the film raises: Why are American citizens signing up for ISIS? How big is the threat, and how effective have the efforts of US counter-terrorism agencies been in combatting homegrown terrorism? What are the unintended consequences of such efforts? And, what freedoms and values do we sacrifice in our efforts to track down established and nascent extremists in our midst?
The documentary includes insights from high-level counter-terrorist experts like Andrew Liepman — former Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center - who recalls attending weekly “Terrorist Tuesday” meetings at the White House, as well as Philip Mudd — former Deputy Director of the FBI's National Security Branch — who admits “You need to be corrupted” to carry out “predator strikes” on terrorists, and is clearly haunted by some of the decisions he’s had to make. Liepman has decidedly mixed feelings about the efficacy and high cost of counter-terrorist efforts in the US, noting “You could argue there are a lot more dangerous things than terrorism: cancer, obesity, gun violence. But that doesn’t capture America’s imagination as much as the threat from ISIS.”
Homegrown was directed by Greg Barker; produced by John Battsek, Julie Goldman, Greg Barker; produced by Diane Becker. Executive Producer, Peter Bergen, based on the book ‘United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists’ by Peter Bergen. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.