Attack in US by Islamic State Likely in 2016, Experts Say


By Debbie Gregory.

Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, testified in a rare public hearing on Capitol Hill about intelligence threats facing the nation.

Clapper is almost certain that the Islamic State (ISIS) will continue to launch or inspire attacks on American soil in 2016.

Attacks in the U.S. have included  the May attack on the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, the July attack on the Navy and Marine reserve center in Chattanooga, TN, and the San Bernardino, CA terror attack in December.

Clapper said that ISIS can “direct and inspire attacks against a wide range of targets around the world” and that the terrorist group has demonstrated ” the threat that homegrown violent extremists also pose to the homeland.”

The horrifying success of unprecedented terrorist attacks in the United States on 9/11 demonstrated that the U.S. government’s threat assessment was wrong. So much of the effort of how to deal with enemies was geared to overseas threats that the Pentagon turned out to be totally unprepared to defend its own headquarters.

Over time, if not significantly degraded, the ISIS threat to the U.S. will become a direct one; that is, an ISIS ability to plan and direct attacks on U.S. soil from the group’s safe haven in Iraq and Syria, just like the group did in Paris

As well as the threat from ISIS and homegrown terrorists, Al-Qaeda, which spawned the Islamic State, remains a danger. Additionally, we need to keep ever vigilant regarding Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Clapper explained that North Korea has expanded a uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium reactor that could begin recovering material for nuclear weapons in weeks or months.

He also said that Pyongyang is committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile capable of posing a direct threat to the United States, “although the system has not been flight-tested.”

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US Intelligence Heads Weigh In on World Issues


By Debbie Gregory.

Summarizing his annual assessment of the world issues facing the United States, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that worldwide threats constitute a “litany of doom.”

Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers, and Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart had very little positive news to offer.

Drug Trafficking- Heroin seizures at the Southern U.S. border have doubled in the last six years, and cocaine production has increased significantly. Tens of thousands of people have died from drug overdoses.

Iran- The U.S. intelligence community is in a “distrust and verify mode” to ensure that Iran complies with the nuclear deal.

North Korea- Test-firing missiles and carrying out nuclear tests to firm up domestic support and intimidate his rivals, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is also advertising what is available to buyers with the ability to meet his asking price.

Space-Both Clapper and Stewart described increasing competition in space, especially from Russia and China. Clapper’s report states that the more aggressive push from Russia and China may threaten U.S. use of military, civil, and commercial space systems.

Terrorism- Outside of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (ISIS) is making gains in Libya. Since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, Clapper said conditions in Libya in some ways resemble Iraq and Syria before the Islamic State’s takeover there. The country has become a hotbed of warring militias with clashing ideologies. Brennan warned the Islamic State is well-positioned to make further gains in the country.

Technology- Comey said an unspecified encryption system has so far prevented his agents from getting access to what he implied was a key piece of evidence in their investigation of the attack in San Bernardino, California. Widespread availability of encryption tools has blocked access to suspects’ communications.

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