The chief of America’s National Counterterrorism Center says the world faces more threats in more places and against more individuals than at any time since Islamic jihadists commandeered four jets and flew them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on 9/11, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
“The threat landscape is less predictable and, while the scale of the capabilities currently demonstrated by most of these violent extremist actors does not rise to the level that core al-Qaida had on 9/11, it is fair to say that we face more threats originating in more places and involving more individuals than we have at any time in the past 15 years,” said Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
His recent testimony came during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee, which was reviewing the state of terrorism and America’s defense 15 years after 9/11.
There have been many attacks and many more investigations of threats, he said.
“Recent events, to include the knife attack … in Minnesota and IED detonations and recoveries in New York and New Jersey, underscore the important of the intelligence community and law enforcement vigilance against terrorism,” he said.
One of the newer threats comes from homegrown violent extremists, noting the pool of potential attackers “has expanded.”
The FBI has cited some 1,000 potential violent extremists in all 50 states.
“While [they] have multiple factors driving their mobilization to violence, this increase in caseloads tracks with ISIL’s rise in prominence and its large-scale media and propaganda efforts to reach and influence populations worldwide,” he said. “What we have seen over time is that [homegrown violent extremists] – either lone actors or small insular groups – tend to gravitate toward simple tactics that do not require advanced skills or outside training.
“We expect that most HVE’s will likely continue to select traditional targets, such as military personnel, law enforcement, and other symbols of the U.S. government, although during the past year we have seen HVE’s plotting against softer civilian targets as was the case in St. Cloud, Minnesota, in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, and in Seaside Park, New Jersey, most recently.”
Some have attacked “personal” targets, such as the Sen Bernardino and Orlando killers.
“Having passed the 15-year mark since 9/11, the array of terrorist actors around the globe is broader, wider, and deeper than it has been at any time since that day. ISIL’s narrative, rooted in unceasing warfare against all enemies, extends beyond the Syria-Iraq battlefield. ISIL has conducted attacks ranging in tactics and targets – the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt; the attacks in Paris at restaurants, a sports stadium, and a concert venue; the killing of hostages and law enforcement officials at a café in Bangladesh; and the bombing of a crowded commercial district in Baghdad – all of which demonstrate now ISIL can capitalize on local networks on the ground for attacks.”
He said the range is from local individuals inspired by ISIS to ISIS members “giving operatives direct guidance.”
He noted that ISIS’s territory in Iraq and Syria has been reduced substantially, “but despite this progress, it is our judgment that ISIL’s ability to carry out terrorist attacks in Syria, Iraq, and abroad has not to date been significantly diminished, and the tempo of ISIL-linked terrorist activity is a reminder of the group’s continued global reach.”