Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Napolitano: Terror threat highest since 9-11.
Washington (CNN) -- The terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland has continued to "evolve" and may now "be at its most heightened state" since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of Congress on Wednesday.
There is an increased reliance on recruiting Westerners into terrorist organizations, she told the House Homeland Security Committee. State and local law enforcement officers are increasingly needed to combat terror, and the focus must be on aiding law enforcement to help them secure communities, she said.
Along with the joint terror task force led by the FBI, the nation's four-pronged counterterrorism response includes locally run "fusion centers" aimed at facilitating intelligence-sharing and analysis; a nationwide reporting initiative for suspicious acts; and the "If you see something, say something" campaign designed to "foster public vigilance," she said. The campaign has been rolled out at major public events such as the Super Bowl and at retail centers, Napolitano said.
In addition, as previously announced, authorities are replacing the color-coded terror alert system with a more useful one, she said. The new system will reflect the nation's need to be ready while also keeping the public as informed as possible, she said.
The most significant risk to the United States is probably posed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Anwar al-Awlaki, said Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The American-born Muslim cleric has close ties to al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda is at its weakest point in the last decade, but remains "a very determined enemy," he said, noting there have been five disrupted plots in Europe in the last five years.
Authorities are also watching groups such as the one behind the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba; Hezbollah; Greek anarchists like the ones thought to have sent letter bombs to embassies.
READ THE FULL STORY AT CNN
Posted by Steve Douglass at 10:35 AM