Al-Qaeda has called upon its supporters to conduct attacks on U.S. soil this holiday season. With the ever-present threat from militant groups, it is important to remember that individual citizens like you are most responsible for thwarting these schemes.

Over the last decade, the general public and law enforcement officials have stopped over 80 percent of potential attacks in the U.S. Several planned attacks were uncovered after an individual overheard something suspicious and reported it to either local law enforcement or the FBI. This is according to research recently conducted by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions at RTI International in Research Triangle Park and the RAND Corporation. Researchers cited the following examples of how shared information at the local level thwarted potentially disastrous events:

[T]he brother of a would-be terrorist told the FBI that his sibling planned to bomb abortion clinics and gay bars in south Florida. The FBI planted an undercover agent who foiled the plans.

An alert Circuit City clerk in Mount Laurel, N.J., noticed that a videotape a customer wanted transferred to DVD showed paramilitary training and calls for jihad. His tip uncovered a plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.

In yet another case, a family notified the police that they had mistakenly received a package filled with fake identification cards for “workers” at the United Nations and the U.S. Department of Defense. That tip helped prevent a plot to make a weapon from 2 pounds of cyanide.

State and local police stopped 22 percent of the 68 thwarted terrorist plots, by investigating what initially appeared to be other crimes like robbery, arson, or parole violations. For example, a white supremacist conspiring to blow up African-American and Jewish landmarks, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, was detected after a policeman saw him passing counterfeit money at a Dunkin Donuts.

Interestingly, the study reveals that 27 percent of domestic plots were connected to Al-Qaeda and affiliated movements (AQAM) and 20 percent more were inspired by AQAM. The additional 53 percent were simply reported as having “other motivations.” A summary of the report was provided by two researchers involved in the analysis, John S. Hollywood of RAND and Kevin J. Strom of RTI, and can be found here.