'Huge Malevolence Out There': Feinstein Says We're Not Safer from Terrorism Today
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said this morning that we're not safer from terrorism today than we were just one or two years ago.
"I think terror is up worldwide, the statistics indicate that, the fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up," she said this morning on CNN. "There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnatometers. The bomb maker is still alive. There are more groups that ever and there's huge malevolence out there."
Her House counterpart, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), said he "absolutely" agreed "that we're not safer today for the same very reasons."
"So the pressure on our intelligence services to get it right to prevent an attack are enormous. And it's getting more difficult because we see the al-Qaeda as we knew it before is metastasizing to something different, more affiliates than we've ever had before, meaning more groups that operated independently of al-Qaeda have now joined al-Qaeda around the world, all of them have at least some aspiration to commit an act of violence in the United States or against western targets all around the world," Rogers said.
"They've now switched to this notion that maybe smaller events are okay. So if you have more smaller events than bigger events, they think that might still lead to their objectives and their goals," he added. "That makes it exponentially harder for our intelligence services to stop an event like that."
Feinstein said there's "real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist, jihadist, Islamic community."
"And that is that the West is responsible for everything that goes wrong, and that the only thing that's going to solve this is Islamic Sharia law and the concept of the caliphate," she said. "And I see more groups, more fundamentalists, more jihadists more determined to kill to get to where they want to get. So, it's not an isolated phenomenon. You see these groups spread a web of connections. And this includes North Africa, it includes the Middle East, it includes other areas as well."
Rogers said the world is now dealing with nearly 25 weak governments who can't control large regions of their territory, making it attractive for safe havens.
He added that a number of Americans and other westerners who went to fight with al-Qaeda units in Syria have returned home. "We are very, very concerned that these folks who have western paper have gone there, participated in combat events, are trained, are further radicalized, now have the ability to go back in western countries."
"...This is all starting to spread. Iraq is having its problems now. It's spreading into Lebanon, Jordan has issues, Turkey along the border has issues. This is very, very, very concerning."
"There is now a bomb that can go through magnatometers. People can get on aircraft with those bombs. They have tried to send four into this country, two in printer cartridges, one by Abdulmutallab, and one, asset, was able to obtain out of Yemen," Feinstein said. "These were coming into this country, two of them aimed at synagogues in Illinois. Now, having said that, the only way to stop this was with intelligence. The only way you could stop that is putting clues together to ferret out where this was coming from."
Rogers said they recently learned "three al-Qaeda affiliate groups have changed the way they communicate means it's less likely that we're going to be able to detect something prior to an event that goes operational, meaning that they've already started the final planning stages to blow something up or shoot someone."
"The bad guys, the al-Qaeda affiliates, Russian intelligence services, Chinese intelligence services, the Quds force that operates terrorism events all around the world, those are the folks we need to focus our attention and our energy on in order to keep America safe," he added.
"...I think people think what the senator was talking about, Dianne was talking about, was people think, 'well, we've got this thing beat, it's kind of over. We don't have to worry about al-Qaeda anymore.' And what we see is that's not the case."