US facing ‘heightened’ threat of attacks: Napolitano

Editor’s Note: In other words, Congress must renew the Patriot Act or else.

© AFP Mandel Ngan

AFP/Activist Post

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States is facing “heightened” threats of attacks from extremists, possibly the highest since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the head of US homeland security told lawmakers Wednesday.

“There is no question that we have made many important strides in securing our country from terrorism since 9/11, but the threat continues to evolve,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a congressional panel.

“And in some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly 10 years ago.”

Napolitano, appearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, said that Al-Qaeda “still represents a threat to the United States, despite its diminished capabilities,” and that the nation also faces “threats from a number of Al-Qaeda associates that share its violent extremist ideology.”

She noted that there is “an increased emphasis on recruiting Americans and Westerners to carry out attacks.”

“These groups are trying to recruit people to carry out attacks that have connections to the West, but who do not have strong ties to terrorist groups that could possibly tip off the intelligence community,” she added.

“They are also encouraging individuals in the West to carry out their own small-scale attacks, which require less of the coordination and planning that could raise red flags and lead to an attack’s disruption.

“This means that the threat has evolved in such a way that we have to add to our traditional counterterrorism strategies, which in the past have looked at the attack as coming from abroad,” she said.

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