McCaul Releases November Terror Threat Snapshot
Washington, D.C. – House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) today released November’s Terror Threat Snapshot, a monthly assessment of the Committee’s continuing effort to highlight the growing threat America, the West, and the world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorists.
Chairman McCaul: “The defeat of ISIS by U.S.-backed coalition forces in Raqqa, its once self-declared capital, represents a significant milestone in disrupting ISIS operations in the region. While the victory marks a significant turning point in the campaign against radical Islamist terror, the cowardly attack in New York City demonstrates the effectiveness of ISIS’ ability to spread its twisted ideology online. We also have to be concerned about hardened ISIS foreign fighters returning to their countries of origin equipped with the skills to radicalize and train would-be terrorists at home. We must remain vigilant and support military, intelligence and law enforcement efforts to counter ISIS’ ongoing plans to inspire and conduct terror attacks around the world.”
- Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke stated that, “The threat is still severe. The terrorist organizations, be it ISIS or al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that.” She went on to explain that, “They are using small plots, and they are happy to have the small plots. Creating terror is their goal. A bladed weapon attack causes terror and continues to disrupt the world, but that does not mean they have given up on a major aviation plot.”
- On October 31, 2017 Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, a native of Uzbekistan, drove a rented truck down a bicycle lane in New York City, killing eight and wounding 13. He then exited the vehicle holding a pellet gun and a paintball gun before being shot and arrested by police. A note written by the terrorist was found near the truck, claiming that he had committed the attack in the name of ISIS. Saipov entered the U.S. legally in 2010 under the Diversity Visa Program, a lottery system which allows immigrants from certain countries to attain permanent resident status.
- The U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in eliminating ISIS safe havens in Iraq and Syria. The most significant development in October was the liberation of Raqqa, which has served as the group’s de facto capital for the past three years. Despite these territorial losses, ISIS maintains robust propaganda and external operation capabilities, both of which represent a significant threat to the U.S. and our allies.
- As the U.S.-led coalition reclaimed terrorist-controlled territory over the past few years, significant numbers of foreign fighters have chosen to return to their countries of origin. Recent estimates put the number of returnees at around 5,000 out of an estimated 40,000. These individuals are among the deadliest, hardened, and most experienced terrorist operatives, and they pose a significant threat to the West. While ISIS-held territory has dropped from 40,000 square miles to only 2,100, the terrorist group’s online recruiting and networking operations remain a serious threat.
- The U.S. has increased military and intelligence operations around the world to combat Islamist extremism. Airstrikes in Afghanistan have increased under a new strategy to “more proactively target” terrorists in the region. Intelligence operations are also becoming more aggressive, and there has been a renewed focus on the Taliban, which has emerged as the primary threat in Afghanistan.
- On October 22, Philippine government officials declared an end to the five month-long engagement with ISIS-inspired militants. The city of Marawi, which was occupied by the terrorists, was under siege for 154 days. The brutal fighting left 920 dead, and government forces are continuing to clear the city and surrounding area of IEDs.