Radicalized U.S. residents willing to carry out attacks with “little or no warning” have helped create one of the biggest terrorist threats in years, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today.
“The terrorist threat to the homeland is in many ways at its most heightened state since 9/11,” she said in prepared testimony for a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee in Washington.
Al-Qaida affiliates and allies increasingly are trying to recruit Westerners or those with ties to the U.S. and Europe, Napolitano said. The recruits include Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a bomb in New York’s Times Square in May, she said.
U.S. intelligence officials are monitoring the actions of allies such as the Haqqani network, Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and al-Shabaab, which have signaled more of a willingness recently to conduct attacks outside of their regions, said Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
“The past two years have highlighted the growing breadth of terrorism faced by the United States and our allies,” Leiter said in prepared remarks.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, a New York Republican, called the hearings to explore the threat of Islamic radicalization. Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the panel’s ranking Democrat, has said the focus should be expanded to include extreme environmentalists and neo-Nazis.
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