A former FBI agent and counter-terrorism expert says the bureau's new chief, James Comey, did right in admitting that Al-Qaida has become more dangerous than he knew.
But ex-agent Chad Jenkins told Newsmax TV on Tuesday that federal law enforcement must act with more urgency to combat foreign terror groups that are gaining in strength and numbers.
"I can appreciate his candidness in . . . opening up and revealing himself in an honorable and honest manner, " Jenkins told "America's Forum" hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman. "But at the same token, we do have to realize that we're just 12 short years away from the most tragic terrorist attack here on U.S. soil and the threat has not gotten reduced. The threat has only gone up [since 9/11]."
Jenkins pointed to countries including Egypt, Libya and Iraq, where Islamic militants are sowing chaos and destabilizing regional governments -- some democratically elected -- through terror and guerrilla warfare.
"We are definitely seeing this problem continue to escalate and spiral," Jenkins said.
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In an interview published Sunday, Comey told The New York Times
that he was unaware of the extent of al-Qaida's resurgence until after he assumed the FBI post in September.
Al-Qaida groups in Africa and the Middle East "are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated," Comey said.
Jenkins said it's not just al-Qaida abroad that should concern America. He said offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood "are present within the United States" and "gaining traction."
Jenkins said the U.S. exit from Iraq has given militants room to challenge Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, even after al-Maliki's convincing win in the latest round of Iraqi elections, and to disrupt the entire region.
"I don't know who's the right fit" to lead Iraq and manage the country's U.S. relations, said Jenkins. But if current conditions there persit, he sees emerging terror organizations continuing to gather force -- and also to operate more freely next door in war-ravaged Syria.
Jenkins, who was in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, said it's "disheartening" to see how little leverage the U.S. retains in a country where so many Americans fought and died.
"What kind of foothold do we have to conduct operations?" he said, adding, "We have no territory that we can . . . go ahead and conduct operations out of in that most tumultuous region in the world right now."
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