In a statement before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on September 27, FBI Director James B Comey warned that though ISIS will be defeated in Syria in Iraq, “There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years” in which terrorists will “try to come to western Europe and” the United States to “kill innocent people.”
“The so-called caliphate will be crushed. The challenge will be: through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of very, very dangerous people,” Comey said at the committee hearing, which was entitled: “15 Years After 9/11: Threats to the Homeland.” “They will not all die on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before.”
“We must prepare ourselves and our allies particularly in western Europe to confront that threat because when ISIL [ISIS] is reduced to an insurgency and those killers flow out they will try to come to western Europe and try to come here to kill innocent people,” Comey continued.
Committee Chairman Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) recognized that the territory controlled by ISIS has decreased, but progress against the terrorist group has been so slow that the group is reconstituting elsewhere. “We haven’t reduced their capability. The diaspora has already begun,” said Johnson, using the same terminology as Comey. “We’re poking the hive. We’ve done some damage to it but the killer bees are leaving the hive. They’re setting up new hives.”
In his opening statement at the hearing, Johnson observed that 15 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “The threat of militant Islamic terrorist attacks to the United States remains significant.”
Johnson noted that during the past year, “Americans have suffered attacks inspired by Islamic Terrorism in San Bernardino, Orlando, Columbus, Philadelphia, and — most recently, the vicious attack in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the bombings in New York and New Jersey.”
Johnson went on to state:
In all, Islamic extremist terrorist[s] have killed 63 people on U.S. soil since our committee last held its annual hearing to consider threats to the homeland and heard testimony from the heads of the FBI, DHS, and National Counterterrorism Center. And this does not count the horrific attacks that occurred in Paris, Brussels, and elsewhere across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Johnson said that as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, he had investigated vulnerabilities on our border and in aviation, maritime, visa, cyber, and critical infrastructure security, and had learned the following about our nation’s vulnerabilities:
• “Our borders are not secure.”
• “Our system for vetting people coming to this country is not air tight, allowing potential adversaries to enter the country.”
• “Federal agencies, and even components within DHS, are not always effectively working together.”
• “Weaknesses remain in the security of our nation’s critical infrastructure and cybersecurity.”
• “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is working to naturalize as many citizens as possible before the election, rather than focusing on weaknesses in the current system that put our security at risk.”
A report about the hearing from Politico noted that senators on the committee said that the FBI is missing opportunities to head off home-grown terrorist attacks such as the shooting at an Orlando nightclub in June where 49 people were killed and the bombings earlier this month in New York and New Jersey.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he was “troubled the FBI is not even willing to admit they made some mistakes. These are judgment calls and the judgment calls were incorrect and I think we should just admit that and look at some of the facts.”
Paul said the FBI failed to get video from a gun shop that could have shown Omar Mateen (who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting at the Pulse “gay” nightclub in Orlando on June 12) buying a weapon shortly before the attack.
Comey said the FBI wasn’t told about that visit promptly, and by the time it was notified, the video had already been erased.
Paul stated that the FBI should have kept an investigation into Mateen open longer because it might have exposed his plan to attack the Pulse nightclub.
“We should keep them open longer ... as long as the facts warrant,” Comey said. “We have the policies and the tools we need to do this well,” adding that agents have to make a “judgment every day” about whether specific cases merit further investigation.
Politico reported that another committee member, Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), questioned why FBI agents in charge of the pre-shooting investigation of Mateen never looked at his social media or Internet activity, even the publicly available information.
Comey replied that the FBI had two people interacting directly with Mateen, leading the case agent to think he had “a pretty good vector into [Mateen’s] state of mind.”
Ayotte said it still seemed odd that the FBI wouldn’t also check his public online activity, especially as the FBI presses for more access to encrypted communications. “It just seems surprising to me that there wasn’t some kind of online work done in something so significant,” said Ayotte.
While the September 27 hearing was focused on the possibility of ISIS terrorists infiltrating here from the Middle East, bringing their jihad here to America, in our article posted on September 21, we raised the strong possibility that the Obama administration’s policies amount to importing Middle East terrorism to the United States.
To support that assertion, we noted that the administration had already begun to put a plan into place to dramatically increase the number of refugees from Syria — large portions of which are presently controlled by ISIS.
We reminded readers that during a joint press appearance in Berlin with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on September 20, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry revealed the administration’s plan to drastically increase the flow of refugees into the United States. During that event, Kerry specifically cited refugees from Syria. “We are now going to go up to 85,000 with at least, and I underscore the ‘at least’ — it is not a ceiling, it’s a floor — of 10,000 over the next year from Syria specifically even as we also receive more refugees from other areas,” said Kerry.
“And in the next fiscal year, we’ll target 100,000, and if it’s possible to do more, we’ll do [more].”
As an indication that the plan outlined by Kerry is proceeding at full force, we quoted an article posted by the White House press office on September 20 (exactly one year after Kerry’s statement) that made it clear that the increase in refugees being admitted to our country was still in effect, terrorist attacks or not:
President Obama announced that the United States will welcome more refugees from around the world, increasing the number of people we receive by 40 percent over the next two years, to 100,000 in 2017.
While Comey warned that “there will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years,” the Obama administration’s schedule for resettling Syrian refugees portends a timetable much earlier than that.