Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), had some troubling things to say on Capitol Hill this morning:
Here's the transcript:
Chairman Lieberman, Senator Collins as you have already noted, the past year has noted the most significant developments in terrorism since 9/11. The three attempted homeland attacks during the past year from overseas based groups, and the two lone-wolf attacks here in the United States, Carlos Bledsoe in Arkansas and Nidal Hassan have surpassed the number and pace of attacks during any year since 9/11.
The range of al Qaeda core, affiliated and allies plotting against the homeland during the past year suggest the threat has in fact grown far more complex and underscores the challenges of identifying and countering a more diverse array of threats to the homeland.
Al Qaeda's affiliates and allies increasing ability to provide training, guidance, and support for attacks against the U.S. makes it very difficult to anticipate the precise nature of the next attack and from where it might come. The regional affiliates that have grown and allies have been able to compensate to some extent for the decreased willingness of al Qaeda in Pakistan to accept and train new recruits and additional attempts by al Qaeda affiliates and allies to attack the U.S., particularly attempts in the homeland, could attract the attention of even more western recruits, thereby increasing those groups' threat to the homeland.
And even failed attacks such as AQAP's and TTP's attempts this past year due to some extent further al Qaeda's goal of fomenting terrorist attacks against the West and demonstrate that some affiliates and allies and homegrown terrorists are embracing their vision. Today, al Qaeda in Pakistan is at one of its weakest points organizationally, but I would stress a significant ‘however,’ that the group has time and time again proven its resilience and remains a very capable and determined enemy. The threat as you have noted is compounded significantly by operationally distinct plotting against the U.S. by its allies, affiliates and sympathizers.