Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller warned Congress that violent extremists could try to carry out cyber-attacks and that al-Qaeda could still launch attacks inside the United States.
“To date, terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyber-attack, but we cannot underestimate their intent,” said Mueller in a hearing before the House appropriations subcommittee, late on Wednesday.
“This is going to be an area of particular focus for the FBI in coming years, as cybercrime cuts across all of our programs. Terrorists are increasingly cyber savvy. Like every other multinational organization, they are using the Internet to grow their business and to connect with like-minded individuals, and they are not hiding in the shadows of cyberspace,” he added.
Muller noted that “terrorists using the Internet are not our only national security concern, however. State-sponsored computer hacking and economic espionage pose significant challenges as well”.
He further affirmed that the FBI continues to face “unprecedented and increasingly complex challenges. We must identify and stop terrorists before they launch attacks against our citizens”.
Muller mentioned that for fiscal year 2013, the FBI requested USD 8.2 billion to fund more than 13,000 special agents, more than 3,000 intelligence analysts and more than 18,000 professional staff.
“This funding level will allow the FBI to maintain, maintain our base operations, with a small increase for financial and mortgage fraud investigations”, he added.
Muller noted that “although Osama bin Laden and other key leaders have been removed; al-Qaida and its affiliates remain the top terrorist threat to the United States”.
“Core al-Qaida operating out of Pakistan remains committed to high-profile attacks against the West. And meanwhile, al-Qaida affiliates and adherents have attempted several attacks on the United States. We are also concerned about the threat from homegrown violent extremists,” he concluded.