Homeland Security officials are saying terrorist networks are being monitored as they continue to be an “evolving threat” to Americans.
Speaking at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday, Robin Taylor, acting deputy undersecretary for intelligence operations at Homeland Security, said the threat of a U.S. attack by a “lone wolf citizen” will be elevated during the Christmas season.
“We assess there is currently an elevated threat of lone offender attacks by ISIS sympathizers, which is especially concerning because mobilized lone offenders present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt their plots,” Taylor warned.
According to Taylor, while the ISIS ‘caliphate’ collapses under intense military pressure in Syria and Iraq, ISIS fighters retain their radical ideology and desire to fight. He further warned that while al Qaeda [AQ] and ISIS are being dismantled, they still pose a potential terror threat.
The Washington Examiner reports:
In testimony [Tayor] said that the “core” al Qaeda “and its affiliates remain a major concern for DHS. Despite the deaths of many AQ senior leaders, the group and its affiliates maintain the intent, and, in some cases, the capability to facilitate and conduct attacks against U.S. citizens and facilities. The group and its affiliates have also demonstrated that capability to adjust tactics, techniques and procedures for targeting the West.”
“Likewise, we continue to monitor the evolving threat posed by ISIS. ISIS fighters’ battlefield experience in Syria and Iraq have armed it with advanced capabilities that most terrorist groups do not have. Even as the so-called ‘caliphate’ collapses, ISIS fighters retain their toxic ideology and a will to fight. We remain concerned that foreign fighters from the U.S. or elsewhere who have traveled to Syria and Iraq and radicalized to violence will ultimately return to the U.S. or their home country to conduct attacks,” he said.
Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has held 10 recent hearings on the issue. Johnson plans to keep his eye on threats which target the United States.
“The strategies of a global Islamist jihad have shifted over the past half-century to adapt to the changing international landscape and our homeland defense must adapt, as well,” Johnson’s planned opening statement read.
Wednesday’s hearing was intended to look into the level of cyber threat posed by the militant group.
“Military victories over ISIS in recent months have reduced its territorial control in Iraq and Syria by over 95 percent from its 2014 peak. While these victories are worth celebrating, the enemies we defeated in Raqqa are exploiting the frontier of cyberspace. There they seek to leverage social media to recruit vulnerable minds to carry out attacks on their behalf. This is the new phase of the threat facing our homeland,” said Johnson.
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