The terrorist threat facing the United States “is at its most heightened state” since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday.
At a hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Napolitano said the United States has made progress “in securing our nation from terrorism.” However, “the terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano emphasized the need to “continually adapt our counterterrorism techniques” to “detect, deter, and prevent terrorist acts.”
She said there's been success in limiting al-Qaida activity in the lawless border between Pakistan and Aghanistan but said terrorism “is not contained by international borders” and “plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens.”
While Napolitano spoke to Congress, Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said al-Qaida's leadership in Pakistan is "at one of its weakest points in the past decade."
According to the New York State Intelligence Center, 50 of the 88 individuals involved in 32 major terrorism cases related to “al-Qaida-like” ideology since 9/11 were U.S. citizens at the time of their arrest.
Napolitano identified commercial aviation, the global supply chain, surface transportation, and cybersecurity as the most likely targets of terrorist attacks.
She also outlined plans to work more closely with law enforcement and community-based organizations to combat terrorism, and to improve communication between Washington, DC and state and local law enforcement.