Headline Archives

   

WORLDWIDE THREATS
Our Annual Assessment

01/11/07

Photograph of F B I Director Robert S. Mueller, III

On Thursday, Director Robert Mueller joined leaders from the intelligence community on Capitol Hill to help paint a picture of the most serious security threats facing our nation.

His full written testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is now online, and we hope you will take the time to read and digest it in full.

From the FBI’s perspective, it’s a sobering assessment. Among the topics covered and comments made by the Director:

  • International terrorism in general. The “United States homeland faces two very different threats from international terrorism: the attack planning that continues to emanate from core al Qaeda overseas and the threat posed by homegrown, self-radicalizing groups and individuals—inspired, but not led by al Qaeda—who are already living in the U.S. While they share a similar ideology, these two groups pose vastly different threats due to their differences in intent and attack capability.”
  • Al Qaeda. We believe “al Qaeda is still seeking to infiltrate operatives into the U.S. from overseas who have no known nexus to terrorism using both legal and possibly illegal methods of entry.” … “It is also possible, however, that al Qaeda’s strategy for attacking the U.S. homeland includes using the U.K. as a stepping stone for al Qaeda operatives to enter the United States.”
  • The homegrown international terrorism threat. The Director cited cases involving three separate groups—two with the intent to attack within the U.S. and one operating ”independently of any known terrorist organization”—that reflect the diverse threat posed by homegrown terrorists.
  • The threat from other international terrorist groups, such as Iranian-supported Lebanese Hizballah, Shia extremists, and Palestinian terrorist groups.
  • Domestic terrorism. White supremacist groups, the militia/sovereign citizen movement, some U.S.-based black separatist groups, and animal rights extremism and eco-terrorism pose a threat.
  • Weapons of mass destruction. Both the pursuit of and proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons continue to be a concern. “Few if any terrorist groups are likely to have the capability to produce complex biological or chemical agents needed for a mass casualty attack, but their capability will improve as they pursue enhancing their scientific knowledge base by recruiting scientists as some groups are doing.”
  • Foreign intelligence and espionage. “Through partnerships with other government agencies and the private and academic sectors, the FBI has not only corroborated long-standing assumptions concerning high-level foreign intelligence activities in the United States, but has detected far greater levels of activity than originally projected; stealing and compromising of classified and non-classified technologies are occurring at levels previously unknown.”
  • Cyber Security Threats, “which may come from a vast array of groups and individuals with different skills, motives, and targets,” including terrorists, foreign governments, criminal hackers, and con artists.

The Director also cited several steps we’re taking to address these threats and cases and success stories from the past year.

Resources: The Director’s full statement