On June 3rd, FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach appeared before the US House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee to provide an update on changes in the global terror threat.
According to Steinbach, the FBI’s counterterror activities are challenged by the widespread use of the Internet and social media by terror groups; and in particular, by ISIL.
Points made by Steinbach include:
- “As technology advances so, too, does terrorists’ use of technology to communicate — both to inspire and recruit.”
- “We continue to identify individuals who seek to join the ranks of foreign fighters traveling in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as ISIL, and also homegrown violent extremists who may aspire to attack the United States from within. These threats remain among the highest priorities for the FBI and the Intelligence Community as a whole.”
- “From a homeland perspective, it is ISIL’s widespread reach through the Internet and social media which is most concerning as ISIL has aggressively employed this technology for its nefarious strategy. ISIL blends traditional media platforms, glossy photos, in-depth articles, and social media campaigns that can go viral in a matter of seconds. No matter the format, the message of radicalization spreads faster than we imagined just a few years ago.”
- “Some of these conversations occur in publicly accessed social networking sites, but others take place via private messaging platforms. As a result, it is imperative the FBI and all law enforcement organizations understand the latest communication tools and are positioned to identify and prevent terror attacks in the homeland.”
- “We live in a technologically driven society and just as private industry has adapted to modern forms of communication so too have the terrorists. Unfortunately, changing forms of Internet communication are quickly outpacing laws and technology designed to allow for the lawful intercept of communication content. This real and growing gap the FBI refers to as Going Dark is the source of continuing focus for the FBI, it must be urgently addressed as the risks associated with Going Dark are grave both in traditional criminal matters as well as in national security matters.”