The United States continues to face persistent terrorist threats from within and outside its borders, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday morning.
“Today’s threats are not limited to any one individual, group or ideology and are not defined or contained by international borders,” she testified. “Terrorist tactics can be as simple as a homemade bomb and as sophisticated as a biological threat or a coordinated cyber attack.”
Aviation security, cybersecurity, and countering violent extremism (CVE), according to Napolitano, were the three most pressing issues facing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) going forward.
Also testifying before the committee was Matthew Olson, director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). During his testimony, Olson listed the major international terrorist threats facing the United States.
Chief among them was al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Since 2009, AQAP has attempted to attack U.S. territory three times, making it “the affiliate most likely to attempt and carry out transnational attacks, including against the United States,” said Olson.
Despite the killing of AQAP propagandists Anwar al Awlaki and Samir Khan, both American citizens who called for attacks against the United States, Olson said their propaganda survives online and could inspire, along with the examples of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and Mohammed Merah, lone wolves or small groups of homegrown terrorists to attack the U.S.
Olson also drew attention to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which conducted a string of attacks on Monday that killed more than 100 people and wounded approximately 300. Over the weekend, AQI chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio recording threatening attacks against U.S. territory.
"Soon you will witness them in the heart of your homeland, as our war with you has just begun, and so await them," al-Baghdadi said.