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FBI Director sets out current terrorism threat

In a statement before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, FBI Director James B. Comey gave an update on recent changes in the terrorism threat landscape.

Key points from the statement include:

  • “As the Boston bombings this past April illustrate, the terrorist threat against the United States remains very real. We face a continuing threat from homegrown extremists, especially those who act alone or in small cells. Homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) present unique challenges because they do not share a typical profile and their experiences and motives are often distinct, which makes them difficult to identify and their plots difficult to disrupt. Al Qaeda and its affiliates continue to encourage extremists in the West to follow this model by engaging in individual violent attacks and have already incorporated the Boston bombings in their propaganda. The Boston Marathon bombing suspects are from the North Caucasus, but the links, if any, between the bombing and that region remain unclear. We currently assess the threat from North Caucasus-based militants to the homeland to be minimal as they remain focused on fighting against Russian security forces in the North Caucasus.

  • “Overseas, the terrorist threat is similarly complex and ever-changing. We are seeing more groups engaged in terrorism, a wider array of terrorist targets, greater cooperation among terrorist groups, and continued evolution and adaptation in tactics and communication. Al Qaeda and its affiliates, especially al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to represent a top terrorist threat to the nation. These groups have attempted several attacks on the United States, including the failed Christmas Day airline bombing in 2009, the attempted bombing of US-bound cargo planes in October of 2010, and a disrupted plot to conduct a suicide bomb attack on a US-bound airliner in April 2012.

  • “Beyond the Middle East, threats emanating from Africa remain a concern to the FBI. Al Shabaab, based in Somalia, recently attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The FBI continues to assess that al Shabaab lacks the intent to conduct or directly support attacks in the United States, as doing so would not be consistent with the group’s strategic aims of establishing an Islamic state in Somalia and defeating the Somali and foreign troops obstructing their efforts to do so. We expect Kenya to remain the primary focus of the group’s external attacks, though other nearby countries participating in military offensives against the group, such as Ethiopia and Uganda, remain at risk as well. Nonetheless, the FBI remains concerned that externally focused elements affiliated with the group are likely to aspire to attack the West and the US. Additionally, domestic extremists could draw inspiration from the group’s propaganda and the Westgate Mall attack to employ similar tactics in the Homeland.”

  • “In North Africa, al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) continues to grow its operational reach and safe haven into Libya and Mali, threatening US and Western interests in the region. The FBI assesses AQIM, its affiliates and allies, and aspirant groups in the region pose a low threat to the homeland in the short- to mid-term, but pose a high threat to US and Western interests in the region, especially at embassies, hotels, and diplomatic facilities in Tunisia and Libya.

  • “With respect to West Africa, the FBI assesses that Nigeria-based Boko Haram does not currently pose a threat to the homeland. Boko Haram does, however, aspire to attack US or Western interests in the region. … Current counterterrorism pressure from Nigerian military and police forces has limited Boko Haram’s ability to execute various operational plans against Western targets; however, communications, training, and weapons links between Boko Haram and AQIM, al Shabaab, and AQAP may strengthen Boko Haram’s capacity to conduct terrorist attacks against US or Western targets in the future.”

Read the full statement.

•Date: 15th November 2013 • US/World •Type: Article • Topic: Terrorism

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