THE TERRORIST THREAT
And Our Concerted Response
On Monday, Director Mueller joined Director
of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and
other top officials in testifying before
a Senate Committee on the current terrorist
threat nearly six years to the day after
the 9/11 attacks.
highlights of his remarks, which are
in full online.
- Al Qaeda, of course, remains the most
serious threat, and it continues to evolve—developing
new safe havens, reconstituting its leadership,
and merging with regional terrorist groups
that “may be more willing to assist
al Qaeda in carrying out attacks against
- Homegrown extremists, radicalized here
and willing to strike within the U.S. either
in cells or as lone wolves, have become “one
of the gravest domestic threats,” as
evidenced by recent plots targeting the
J.F.K. airport and Fort Dix that the FBI
disrupted with its partners. The Director
did say that “the level of intensity
of extremism inside the United States does
not equal that in the United Kingdom or
elsewhere in Europe…”
- Understanding the tools of terrorists—especially
improvised explosive devices—are
an integral part of tackling the threat.
The Director called for a “unified
national approach” to addressing
IEDs and stressed that terrorists will
continue trying to get their hands on weapons
of mass destruction.
- Single issue groups and domestic terrorists,
which include “white supremacists,
anarchists, and eco-terrorists,” continue
to be a concern.
- The last six years have seen “unprecedented
change” in the FBI, as we have transformed
ourselves and re-tooled on many levels—from
training and partnerships.
- Our response to terrorism is now strategic,
with our annual international terrorism
threat assessments providing “strategic
warning of the most critical threats,” identifying
key gaps in intelligence, and pinpointing “emerging
operational trends that require immediate
collection and analysis.”
- We’re now highly integrated with
our local, state, and national partners,
with more than 250 of our personnel, for
example, working in 36 fusion centers nationwide.
Sixteen of these fusion centers are co-located
with our Field Intelligence Groups, our
primary hub for information sharing.
- We’re producing more and better
threat assessments and “situational
awareness bulletins” for law enforcement,
including more than 260 since 2002, that
highlight terrorist tactics and vulnerabilities
and potential indicators of extremist activity.
- Our “extensive outreach” to
Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh communities—including
regular meetings at national and local
levels—is building trust and dispelling
myths about the FBI.
- We continue to strengthen our training,
with 100 extra hours in national security
areas for new agents, an improved 10-week
course for analysts developed in concert
with the Director of National Intelligence
and the CIA, and other efforts.
As the Director points out, we are a stronger
organization today, and even though the events
of 9/11 are painful to remember, they continue
to inspire us to improve.
July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate
January 2007 Worldwide Threat Testimony
- Inside the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force series