Director of the FBI Robert Mueller affirmed Thursday that despite the “major” blow the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken recently it remains a threat to the U.S.
Mueller told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that the death of Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan was a major blow to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
He added that “despite this blow to their leadership, AQAP remains a significant threat to the homeland, and we must maintain our vigilance in responding to this threat.”
He affirmed that AQAP “has proven its capability to direct attacks into the United States. And a strike against its leadership, even a significant one, does not eliminate the potential for retaliation or other action by AQAP.”
Mueller stressed that the threat “from homegrown violent extremists is among our most serious terrorism threats today.”
“Homegrown violent extremists are harder to detect and disrupt. And the FBI, along with our partners, is focused more than ever on this threat,” he noted.
For his part, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Mathew Olsen also told the Committee that the death of al-Awlaki “has dealt a blow to al-Qaeda’s most active affiliate.”
He added that “a decade after the September 11th attacks we remain at war with al-Qaeda,” saying “it has proven to be a resilient and adaptive enemy intent on attacking us both here and abroad. And we continue to face an evolving threat from al-Qaeda’s affiliates and its adherents.”
Olsen agreed that Awlaki’s death last week “is a major blow to AQAP and its homeland plotting, but it does not end the threat from AQAP.”
“We remain concerned about the group’s intent to attack western targets as well as its propaganda efforts designed to inspire like-minded western extremists. And we are monitoring how the loss of Awlaki and Khan will affect AQAP’s propaganda machine,” he stressed.