Home News Testimony Combating Terrorism: Protecting the United States
  • J. T. Caruso
  • Deputy Executive Assistant Director, Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence Division, FBI
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations
  • Washington, DC
  • March 21, 2002

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to testify at this hearing on "Combating Terrorism: Protecting the United States". For the record, I am the Deputy Executive Assistant Director for Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, marked a dramatic escalation in a trend toward more destructive terrorist attacks which began in the 1980s. The September 11 attack also reflected a trend toward more indiscriminate targeting among international terrorists. The vast majority of the more than 3,000 victims of the attack were civilians. In addition, the attack represented the first known case of suicide attacks carried out by international terrorists in the United States. The September 11 attack also marked the first successful act of international terrorism in the United States since the vehicle bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993.

Despite its unprecedented scope and destruction, the September 11 attack underscored many of the trends in international terrorism identified in recent years by the U.S. intelligence community. Among these has been an apparent shift in operational intensity from traditional sources of terrorism--state sponsors and traditional terrorist organizations--to extremist groups, organized under the Al Qaeda umbrella. This trend has been paralleled by a general shift in tactics and methodologies among international terrorists that focus on producing mass casualties. These trends underscore the serious threat that international terrorists continue to pose to nations around the world, particularly the United States.

At the same time, the United States also faces challenges from domestic terrorists. Threats emanating from domestic and international terrorists will continue to represent a significant challenge to the United States for the foreseeable future. Further, as terrorists continue to refine and expand their methodologies, the threats they pose will become even greater.

BACKGROUND

In general terms, the international terrorist threat to US interests can be divided into three categories: the radical international jihad movement, traditional, clearly defined terrorist organizations, and state sponsors of international terrorism. Each of these categories represents a threat to US interests.

The most serious international terrorist threat to US interests today stems from Sunni Islamic extremists, such as Usama bin laden and individuals affiliated with his Al-Qaeda organization. Al-Qaeda leaders, including Usama bin laden, had been harbored in Afghanistan since 1996 by the extremist Islamic regime of the Taliban. Despite recent military setbacks suffered by the Taliban and the apparent death of Al-Qaeda operational commander Mohamed Atef resulting from a US bombing raid, Al-Qaeda must continue to be viewed as a potent and highly capable terrorist network. The network's willingness and capability to inflict large-scale violence and destruction against US persons and interests--as it demonstrated with the September 11 attack, the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000, and the bombings of two US Embassies in east Africa in August 1998, among other plots--makes it a clear and imminent threat to the United States.

However, the threat from Al-Qaeda is only a part of the overall threat from the radical international jihad movement, which is composed of individuals of varying nationalities, ethnicities, tribes, races, and terrorist group memberships who work together in support of extremist Sunni goals. One of the primary goals of Sunni extremists is the removal of US military forces from the Persian gulf area, most notably Saudi Arabia. The single common element among these diverse individuals is their commitment to the radical international jihad movement, which includes a radicalized ideology and agenda promoting the use of violence against the "enemies of Islam" in order to overthrow all governments which are not ruled by Sharia (conservative Islamic) law. A primary tactical objective of this movement has been the planning and implementation of large-scale, high-profile, high-casualty terrorist attacks against US interests and citizens, and those of its allies, worldwide.

The second category of international terrorist threat is made up of the traditional and more clearly defined terrorist organizations. These autonomous, generally transnational, groups have their own personnel, infrastructures, financial arrangements, and training facilities. They are able to plan and mount terrorist campaigns on an international basis, and several actively support terrorist-related activities in the United States. Extremist groups such as Palestinian Hamas, the Irish republican army, the Egyptian al-Gama al-Islamiyya (IG), and Lebanese Hizballah have supporters in the United States, though the activities of these U.S.-based cells revolve primarily around fundraising, recruiting, and low-level intelligence gathering.

Hizballah is a formal organization that has carried out numerous anti-U.S. attacks overseas, including the October 1983 vehicle bombing of the US marine barracks in Lebanon. With the exception of the Al-Qaeda network, Hizballah is responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist group in the world. On June 21, 2001, the United States indicted 14 subjects--13 Saudis and 1 Lebanese national--for their suspected involvement in the June 1996 bombing of Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia. Nineteen US airmen died in the blast; Saudi Hizballah is suspected of carrying out the attack. To date, Hizballah has never carried out a terrorist attack in the United States.

State sponsors of terrorism make up the third category of international terrorist threat. The primary state sponsors are Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Libya. These countries view terrorism as a tool of foreign policy. Syria, which is also on the US Department of State's list of state sponsors of terrorism, has not been directly involved in conducting terrorist activity for a number of years but still provides a safe haven to international terrorist groups and loosely affiliated extremists. North Korea and Cuba--also on the Department of State's list of state sponsors--have significantly reduced their direct involvement with terrorism due, in part, to the rapidly diminishing capacity of their economies to support such activity.

The trend toward high-profile, high-impact attacks comes at a time when interest is growing among domestic and international extremists in weapons of mass destruction (WMD). A series of anthrax-related cases and threats occurring since September 2001 provide a glimpse into emerging terrorist scenarios of the 21st century.

A series of bioterrorism incidents using b. anthracis spores sent through the mail have resulted in 22 anthrax cases and five deaths since October 3, 2001. The initial anthrax cases occurred among persons with known or suspected contact with opened letters contaminated with b. anthracis spores. Later, investigations identified four confirmed cases and one suspected case among postal workers who had no known contact with contaminated opened letters. This suggests that sealed envelopes contaminated with anthrax passing through the postal system may be the source of these exposures. The number of contaminated envelopes passing through the postal system is under investigation.

Leads continue to be investigated; however, no determination has been made as to whether this is the result of domestic or international terrorism and no suspect has been identified. On November 9, 2001, the FBI issued a behavioral/linguistic assessment of the offender based on the known anthrax parcels. As stated in this assessment, the offender is believed to be an adult male who has access to a source of anthrax and possesses the knowledge and expertise to refine it. The FBI heads a multi-agency effort to identify the perpetrator of these deadly attacks.

During the past several years the FBI had identified a wide array of cyber threats, ranging from defacement of web sites by juveniles to sophisticated intrusions sponsored by foreign powers. Some of these incidents pose more significant threats than others. The theft of national security information from a government agency or the interruption of electrical power to a major metropolitan area obviously would have greater consequences for national security, public safety, and the economy than the defacement of a web-site. Beyond criminal threats, cyber space also faces a variety of significant national security threats, including increasing threats from terrorists.

Terrorist groups are increasingly using new information technology and the Internet to formulate plans, raise funds, spread propaganda, and engage in secure communications. Cyberterrorism-–meaning the use of cyber tools to shut down critical national infrastructures (such as energy, transportation, or government operations) for the purpose of coercing or intimidating a government or civilian population–-is clearly an emerging threat.

OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY

The FBI's new, more focused mission is the prevention of future terrorist attacks. It must be understood, however, that protecting the United States and its citizens and overseas interests from terrorism is a national effort, involving federal, state and local government entities and the private sector. With so many different agencies involved in combating terrorism, the effort to lead and manage these efforts becomes inherently difficult. Subsequent to the attacks of September 11, 2001, the President issued Executive Order13228, which established the Office of Homeland Security. The mission of the OHS is to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to secure the US from terrorist threats or attacks. The OHS is charged with coordinating the executive branch's efforts to detect, prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks. Governor Ridge has announced that the number one priority for the Office of Homeland Security is to create a national planned strategy to effectively coordinate the homeland security efforts of all 50 states, US territories, the District of Columbia, thousands of municipalities and countless private entities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has coordinated with and provided input into the Office of Homeland Security through various working groups and Policy Coordination Committees (PCCs) headed by the Office of Homeland Security to promote various homeland security initiatives and programs. These PCCs formulate plans for initiatives and policy matters involving National Guard support to Airport Security, Border Security Organization, Airspace Security, Horizontal Information Sharing, Vertical Information Sharing, and others. In addition, the FBI has detailed a senior Supervisory Special Agent to the Office of Homeland Security to fill the position of Directorate of Intelligence Fusion.

The FBI has been committed to working with the OHS, and it will continue to support the OHS directly. The FBI will provide the OHS with key technical assistance, from a crisis management standpoint, with the creation of a national strategy - as well as many other terrorism prevention efforts.

THREAT AND RISK ASSESSMENTS

A major threat to our nation's security is the use of weapons of mass destruction within our borders by terrorist groups, both domestic and international, hostile nations or individual extremists. In the Spring of 2001, the FBI entered into a partnership with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) in the development of an assessment of those chemical and biological agents that may be more likely to be used in the United States by a non-State sponsored terrorist. The FBI completed the technical review of the results by September 2001, however, additional revisions to the report are being made by TSWG prior to sending the assessment out for interagency review and concurrence. The FBI understands that the TSWG plans to provide a revised report for review in the near future. The FBI does not anticipate there will be any significant changes in the report's findings based upon the events of the past several months. For example, while prior to September 2001, the FBI had not investigated any cases where anthrax use was confirmed, the topic was still included in the report due to its scientific and technical properties, including those factors which may make it a likely bio-terrorism weapon. The FBI will continue to examine law enforcement and intelligence information to ensure that the findings in the NIJ/TSWG report are accurate and helpful to State and local law enforcement.

In FY99, through the "Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1998", Congress mandated that, "[T]he Attorney General, through the FBI, and representatives of appropriate federal, state, and local agencies shall develop and test methodologies for assessing the threat and risk of terrorist employment of weapons of mass destruction against cities and other local areas."

Congress also mandated that the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Department of Justice, utilize a capabilities and needs assessment process in implementation of the Federal government's "FY99 State Domestic Preparedness Equipment Program." This program is designed to provide funding assistance to the nation's fifty-six states, territories, and the District of Columbia. Under this program, States and territories are required to award sub-grants to local jurisdictions based on results of jurisdictional needs assessments. The collection of the assessment data will be used to develop a statewide strategy for domestic preparedness equipment, training, exercise and technical support programs. These programs will assist the state in targeting available resources or activities having the greatest positive impact on levels of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism response preparedness.

Recognizing that a comprehensive needs assessment would require a threat, vulnerability, and risk component, and the FBI's current mandate requiring the development of the same, the FBI and OJP engaged in a cooperative effort to develop a single comprehensive assessment tool. In furtherance of this objective, the FBI developed a threat assessment process that is being utilized by state and local jurisdictions to help determine funding priorities for WMD domestic preparedness equipment and training. This process was integrated into a larger Needs Assessment process that has been distributed to all fifty-six states, territories, and the District of Columbia as part of the OJP FY99 State Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Attorney General directed all states and territories to complete their needs assessments and state-wide strategic plans as soon as possible. To date, 47 states and territories have submitted their completed package to OJP for review. The results of the individual state assessments are entered into a central database at OJP. The FBI is not currently in possession of those results.

The important work of OJP in the area of threat and risk assessment will be utilized and built upon as part of expanded First Responder Initiative proposed in the President's FY 2003 Budget.

COMPILATION, ANALYSIS AND SHARING OF INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION

It is apparent to everyone that the sharing of both criminal and intelligence information has become the most important tool in combating terrorism. The FBI must do a better job of sharing the information it receives, both through its criminal investigations of terrorist groups within the United States and the intelligence information that it receives from its own collection efforts and those of the Intelligence Community and other foreign services. The FBI has several on-going initiatives to enhance the cooperation between the FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

In 1996, the FBI centralized many specialized terrorism operational and analytical functions in what was then called the "FBI Counterterrorism Center". The FBI counterterrorism center was established to combat terrorism on three fronts: international terrorism operations both within the United States and in support of extraterritorial investigations, domestic terrorism operations, and countermeasures relating to both international and domestic terrorism. This center was eventually overtaken when the FBI formally created the Counterterrorism Division. Eighteen federal agencies maintain a regular presence in the Counterterrorism Division and participate in its daily operations. These agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, and the Department of State, among others. This multi-agency arrangement provides an unprecedented opportunity for information sharing, warning, and real-time intelligence analysis.

This cooperation led to other important changes. During the past several years, the FBI and CIA have developed a closer working relationship that strengthened the ability of each agency to respond to terrorist threats and improved the ability of the US government to respond to terrorist attacks that do occur. An element of this cooperation is an ongoing exchange of personnel between the two agencies. Included among the CIA employees detailed to the FBI's counterterrorism division is a veteran CIA officer who serves as the deputy section chief for international terrorism. Likewise, FBI agents are detailed to the CIA, and a veteran special agent serves in a comparable position in the CIA's counterterrorist center.

In addition to the CIA, since the mid-1990s, FBI's Counterterrorism Division in FBI Headquarters has been composed of FBI personnel and personnel representing the US Intelligence and Law Enforcement community, including the NSA, DIA, INS, Customs, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Department of State. In return, FBI regularly assigns personnel to US Intelligence Community Headquarters agencies all in an effort to expedite information sharing and processing.

FBI's Counterterrorism Division regularly collects raw and finished intelligence from Intelligence Community systems (Intelink) currently installed at FBIHQ and in about half of the field offices. These systems provide raw and finished intelligence reporting prepared by CIA, DIA, NSA and State Department on State-Sponsors of Terrorism and transnational terrorist networks/groups.
The FBI regularly participates in Interagency Intelligence Community Working Groups – CIA's Interagency Intelligence Committee on Terrorism: Monthly General Meetings and Warning and Forecast Meetings-- designed to share sensitive intelligence. Many of these working groups work jointly in combating various forms of transnational terrorism. These groups make every effort to track fugitive terrorists worldwide and render them back to the United States to face trial.

The FBI maintains a robust working relationship with multiple foreign intelligence services. Furthermore, FBI's Legal Attache Program, composed of 44 LEGAT's stationed overseas, works jointly with host foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies in pursuing international criminals and terrorists wanted for outstanding violations.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FBI established a threat assessment/prevention unit tasked with assisting current FBIHQ domestic terrorism and international terrorism personnel with assessing the potential threats existing in short and long term environments. Raw intelligence collected by the intelligence community is compared with investigative data accumulated by the FBI to determine the feasibility and credibility of threat information received in various venues.

The FBI has found that success against terrorism is best achieved through cooperation between the various federal, state and local law enforcement and public safety agencies. However, in order to more effectively combat terrorism, cooperation must extend beyond the mere exchange of information. Thus, the FBI formed Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) to maximize interagency cooperation and coordination to create cohesive units capable of addressing the terrorism problems worldwide. The first Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) was established in 1980. In 1996 Congress appropriated funds to establish additional task forces throughout the nation. We presently have 44 task forces, which include nine new task forces added since September 11, 2001. The FBI anticipates having a task force in each of its 56 FBI field offices by the end of this fiscal year. This would result in an increase of 21 new task forces this fiscal year.

To improve interagency terrorism related information sharing, the FBI Counterterrorism Division is piloting an "information integration initiative". This pilot program will facilitate having law enforcement and public safety agencies warehouse their agency data in a single secure database. The operational objective of this database is to facilitate terrorism information sharing between the FBI and the law enforcement and public safety community continuously. The goal is to have a field office operational this fiscal year with others to follow.

The FBI created a sub-file within the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) data base called the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organizations File (VGTOF). The subjects of counterterrorism investigations are being added to the file daily and are accessed by other Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies whenever these agencies access the system for the purpose of running criminal history checks on individuals of interest to their own investigations (i.e., during routine traffic stops). When accessed by an officer, the system is capable of automatically notifying the officer that the name is of interest to the FBI and should be treated with caution. The system can provide further instructions such as, requesting the officer to notify the FBI of the reason for the inquiry and the results of that inquiry. The purpose of the data base is to share pertinent biographical information with other Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies for officer safety and mutual investigative interest.

Because warning is critical to the prevention of terrorist acts, the FBI also has expanded the terrorist threat warning system (NTWS) first implemented in 1989. The system now reaches all aspects of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. Currently, sixty federal agencies and their subcomponents receive information via secure teletype through this system. The messages also are transmitted to all 56 FBI field offices and 44 Legats.

If threat information requires nationwide unclassified dissemination to all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the FBI transmits messages via the national law enforcement telecommunications system (NLETS). In addition, the FBI disseminates threat information to security managers of thousands of US commercial interests around the country through the awareness of national security issues and response (ANSIR) program. If threat information needs to be directly provided to the American people, the FBI coordinates with the Office of Homeland Security to issue a threat warning under the Homeland Security Advisory System.

The FBI's Counterterrorism Division, after consultation with state and local law enforcement officials, has initiated the publication of a weekly FBI Intelligence Bulletin. This bulletin is intended for patrol officers and others who come in contact with the public on a routine basis. The publication is disseminated by several methods including Law Enforcement On-line (LEO), NLETS, and the Regional Intelligence Sharing System (RISS), administered by the Office of Justice Program, DOJ.

The above are just some examples of the FBI's ongoing initiatives to share both criminal and intelligence information with other law enforcement agencies and the Intelligence Community as a whole. The FBI is also exploring additional avenues to share information with the public sector and companies responsible for the protection of the nation's infrastructure.

ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES FOR ADDITIONAL CT FUNDS RECEIVED

To effectively neutralize threats emanating from terrorist activities, the FBI must concentrate on both prevention and response. To this end, the FBI's Counterterrorism Division has developed a five-level strategy which focuses on building maximum feasible operational capability in order to identify, prevent and deter terrorist activities.

ÀÀ Level one of this strategy focuses on maximizing the FBI's capacity to respond to terrorist issues as they present themselves in FBI field offices.

ÀÀ Level two seeks to maximize the capacity of FBI Headquarters to receive, react to and disseminate information pertaining to terrorism-related issues.

ÀÀ Level three is aimed at maximizing proactive capabilities to utilize resources Bureau-wide in support of the CT Program. (ie: the leveraging of key services such as analysis, language/translation and technology)

ÀÀ Level four uses the establishment and maintenance of sound and productive relationships with external counterparts in the intelligence and law enforcement communities, defense establishments, foreign governments and state and local governments to obtain maximum support.

ÀÀ Level Five seeks to build capacity by using all the necessary assets and capabilities of the FBI and external components of the US Government to support and initiate complex domestic and extraterritorial investigations and operations designed to get ahead of the threat by penetrating and neutralizing terrorist organizations.

In connection with these efforts, the CTD has established mechanisms for use in measuring the CT Program's progress toward applicable five year program goals and has focused its allocation of resources against noted performance gaps. The performance indicators used by the FBI's CTD serve to measure the CT Program's activities against the applicable program goals.

Under the FBI's mission of prevention, the top priorities of the Counterterrorism Division continue to be 1) enhancing the level of analytical support to the counterterrorism program; 2) enhancing the FBI's capability to electronically share information/intelligence and 3) enhancing the FBI's field offices capacity to respond to terrorist issues. The FBI measures achievements in these areas by focusing on the following indicators: 1) number of investigative matters pending, closed, and open during a specified period; 2) arrests; 3) locates; 4) informations; 5) indictments; 6) convictions/pre-trial diversions; 7) recoveries/restitutions; and 8) fines.

REORGANIZATION OF THE FBI

In December, with the approval of the Attorney General, we began a major reorganization of the FBI. The first phase of the comprehensive plan created a Headquarters structure that will help the executive team lead and manage the Bureau more effectively. As you know, it establishes four new Executive Assistant Directors who report directly to the Director of the FBI and oversee key areas: Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence; Criminal Investigations; Law Enforcement Services; and Administration. This structure reduces the span of control of the former Deputy Director position, a management concern raised here on Capitol Hill and in internal and external reviews of the Bureau. These changes also increase accountability and strengthen executive-level management oversight of day-to-day operations, and permit a greater focus on strategic management issues.

The reorganization addresses some of the other significant management issues and concerns raised by members of Congress and others in recent months as well. It is consistent with substantive comments culled from Congressional reports as well as various Administration and Congressionally-directed reports published since 1996. The reorganization creates a stand-alone Security Division, headed by an experienced professional from the CIA, to raise the security practices and standards to the level needed, to fix what the Hanssen investigation made painfully obvious. It also includes an Office of Records Management, led by an experienced records expert, to help modernize the record-keeping systems, policies, and processes to prevent another OKBOMB document situation. The reorganization elevated the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) so that the position reports directly to the Director. It establishes an Office of Law Enforcement Coordination that will not only improve relationships and information sharing with state and local police professionals and others, but will also help the FBI tap into the strengths and capabilities of its partners. The Bureau is working now to identify an experienced, qualified executive from state or local law enforcement to head this new office, someone who will help the Bureau understand how best to integrate state and local counterparts in the war against terrorism and into major investigations.

At the same time, the ongoing reorganization responds directly to the events of September 11th and the new environment by consolidating FBI oversight over the Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence programs. The new structure creates the Office of Intelligence, which will focus on building a strategic analysis capability and improving the capacity to gather, analyze, and share critical national security information. It also creates a new Cyber-Crime Division dedicated to preventing and responding to high tech and computer crimes, which terrorists around the world are increasingly exploiting to attack America and its allies. The old structure was fractured and not well coordinated. This change will bring together various cyber initiatives and programs under one umbrella, so the FBI is better focused, organized, and coordinated in working with our public and private sector partners to protect our nation's growing digital marketplace and electronic infrastructure. The FBI is now beginning the second phase of the reorganization. As part of this phase, we are developing a comprehensive strategy to permanently shift resources to the fight against terrorism and in support of a massive prevention effort. The Director will present this strategy to the Department, Administration, and the Congress soon. The FBI is working to identify areas where we can redirect resources without compromising our investigative priorities or our partnerships with law enforcement and other government agencies. Given the gravity of the current terrorist threat to the United States, the FBI must make hard decisions to focus its available energies and resources on preventing additional terrorist acts and protecting our nation's security. At the same time, we will continue to pursue and combat international and national organized crime groups and enterprises, civil rights violations, major white-collar crime, and serious violent crime consistent with available resources and the capabilities of our federal, state, and local partners. We want our mission driven by the simple principle that whatever we do, we will devote the resources and expertise to be the best in the world.

ADDITIONAL STEPS WHICH NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION

The FBI's top priority is the prevention of any further terrorist acts in the United States or against US citizens and interests abroad. The FBI was provided with an increase in investigative personnel for its counterterrorism program in FY 2002. We are now in the process of hiring and deploying these positions. However, an effective investigative capacity not only involves putting Agents on the streets, it also requires strong programs and resources to support these Agents. These resources include surveillance operations; technically proficient, well-equipped, and well-trained personnel; effective response capabilities; and the ability to combat terrorism in the cyber arena These resources have been requested. The resources are need to, among others, expand the FBI's LEGAT program; fund and train the additional personnel required in the field offices (both Agent and Analysts); and train federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the complexities of terrorism investigations.

CONCLUSION

Despite the current focus on international terrorism, it is important to remain cognizant of the full range of threats that confront the United States. These threats continue to include domestic and international terrorists. The 169 lives claimed in the Oklahoma City bombing and the potential very heavy loss of lives that could have resulted from various thwarted plots, demonstrate the interest among some domestic extremists in inflicting mass casualties.

On September 11, 2001, the scope and sophistication of the international radical jihad movement was demonstrated with horrendous clarity when 19 hijackers commandeered four commercial airliners, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and the other into a remote field in Pennsylvania. This attack resulted in more casualties than any other terrorist act ever recorded.

Even as the Al-Qaeda command structure in Afghanistan is destroyed, Al-Qaeda cells in countries around the world will continue to pose a threat to US and other western interests. The plotters who carried out the September 11, 2001 attack maintained a low profile and appeared to actively avoid coming to the attention of law enforcement agencies. Such operational discipline underscores the challenge to US law enforcement agencies in uncovering and disrupting Al-Qaeda cells in the United States. Although the public mind often groups international terrorists into a standard stereotype, such a view fails to accommodate subtle but important differences in goals and tactics among different extremist movements. Despite the military setbacks suffered by Al-Qaeda, extremists adhering to the international jihad movement will continue to focus on attacks that yield significant destruction and high casualties, thus maximizing worldwide media attention and public anxiety. It also appears likely that as governments "harden" official targets, such as Embassies and international schools, these terrorists will increasingly seek out more vulnerable "softer" targets, such as high-profile offices of multinational firms and Americans traveling and working abroad.

Terrorism represents a continuing threat to the United States and a formidable challenge to the FBI. In response to this threat, the FBI has developed a broad-based counterterrorism program, based on robust investigations to disrupt terrorist activities, interagency cooperation, and effective warning. While this approach has yielded many successes, the dynamic nature of the terrorist threat demands that our capabilities continually be refined and adapted to continue to provide the most effective response.

 
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