3 administration officials in fight against terror say al-Qaida threat has grown more complex

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 govt officials: al-Qaida threat more complex

WASHINGTON — Three top Obama administration officials in the fight against terror said Wednesday that the al-Qaida threat to the United States has grown more complex in the past year and underscores the challenges of pinpointing and blocking terrorist plots.

In remarks to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, Michael Leiter, director of the national counterterrorism center, said al-Qaida in Pakistan is at one of its weakest points organizationally.

Nonetheless, said Leiter, the terrorist group remains a capable and determined enemy that has proven its resilience over time.

“Groups affiliated with al-Qaida are now actively targeting the United States and looking to use Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said al-Qaida has inspired an array of terrorist groups.

“We are all seeing more diverse activity” by a more diverse collection of groups, said Napolitano.

“The threat is still all too real,” committee chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said as the start of the hearing.

The panel’s ranking Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, said the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and the attempted Christmas day attack aboard a Detroit-bound airliner show that the terrorist threat “is evolving and ever-changing” and “is a chameleon by design.”

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