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A paradigm shift is occurring in the US national security threat landscape...

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass have discussed the US national security threat landscape in a recent joint interview. In the interview, Wray described a threat landscape ranging from terrorism to cyber crime to espionage. He specifically called out the Chinese government, which the FBI considers a major counterintelligence threat to the US and other countries. The Chinese intelligence services strategically use every tool at their disposal - including state-owned businesses, students, researchers, and ostensibly private companies - to systematically steal information and intellectual property said Mr. Wray.

Wray described the variety of resources that the FBI uses to thwart terrorists, spies, and criminals, such as multi-agency task forces, international legal attaché offices, and rapid response teams. Partnerships, whether with other government agencies or the private sector, are key to carrying out the FBI’s mission and something the FBI continues to strengthen.

Wray also said the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka are a reminder that terrorism remains a persistent danger, although smaller plots from homegrown violent extremists are also a threat—one that is more challenging for law enforcement to thwart ahead of time.

Richard Haass said that there is a paradigm shift occurring in the US national security threat landscape.

“The nature of the threats we face is evolving - criminal and terrorist threats are morphing beyond traditional actors and tactics. We still have to worry about an al Qaeda cell planning a large-scale attack,” said Mr. Haass, “But we also now have to worry about homegrown violent extremists who are radicalizing in the shadows. These folks aren’t targeting the airport or the power plant. They’re targeting schools, sidewalks, landmarks, concerts, and shopping malls, with anything they can get their hands on, and often things they can get their hands on pretty easily - knives, guns, cars, and primitive IEDs. They’re moving from radicalization to attack in weeks or even days, not years; online and in encrypted messaging platforms, not a camp or a cave.”

“On the cyber front, we’re seeing hack after hack, and breach after breach,” said Mr. Haass, “And we’re seeing more and more what we call a ‘blended threat’, where cyber and espionage merge together in all kinds of new ways.”

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