Pakistan, Afghanistan continue to be primary threat to US: FBI

March 26th, 2009 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 26 (IANS) Citing the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks, blamed on Pakistan based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan pose the primary threat to America.

“We have not had a terrorist attack on American soil in more than seven years. But we are not safe, as illustrated by the recent attacks in Mumbai,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, Wednesday told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Our primary threat continues to come from the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. But we are seeing persistent activity elsewhere, from the Horn of Africa to Yemen,” he said giving an overview of the “diverse, dangerous, and global in nature,” threats which made terrorism its top priority.

The FBI was also concerned about the threat of homegrown terrorists, Mueller said, noting since Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US it had “learned of young men from communities in the United States, radicalised and recruited here to travel to countries such as Afghanistan or Iraq, Yemen or Somalia.”

“Today, we still face threats from Al Qaeda. But we must also focus on less well-known terrorist groups, as well as homegrown terrorists,” he said. “And we must consider extremists from visa-waiver countries, who are merely an e-ticket away from the United States.”

“We must also focus on extremists who may be living here in the United States, in the very communities they intend to attack,” he said.

Mueller said in the aftermath of the Sep 11, 2001, attacks, counterterrorism became FBI’s top priority, and it remains its top priority today. “Indeed, our top three priorities-counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber security-are national security related.”

Like other federal agencies, FBI was worried about the economic downturn and the impact on criminal and terrorist threats against the US, he said.

“But at the same time, we understand that our role cannot be limited to the domestic front. Just as there are no borders for crime and terrorism, there can be no borders for justice and the rule of law.”

Through its 61 Legal Attache offices around the world, international training programmes, and joint investigations, FBI had strengthened its relationships with its international law enforcement partners and expanded its global reach, Mueller said.

“Global cooperation is not merely the best way to combat global crime and terrorism, it is the only way,” he said.”And we must cooperate not only with our international law enforcement and intelligence partners, but with our

private partners as well,”

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