Terrorist threats emanating from Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Iraq – especially ISIS – pose a greater danger than those that could emerge from Afghanistan, said National Intelligence Director Avril Haines at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit.
“Regarding the homeland, the threat right now from terrorist groups, we are not prioritizing Afghanistan at the top of the list,” she said, speaking by video conference. “What we are looking at is Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq for ISIS. This is where we see the greatest threat.”
Haines said a primary objective for the intelligence community now is to monitor “any possible reconstitution of terrorist organizations” in Afghanistan.
ISIS still operates in Syria and Iraq, although the group has been held back by the US military presence in both countries. In Yemen, a branch of Al Qaeda based there attempted to attack the United States. And in Somalia, the United States has carried out regular counterterrorism strikes against Al-Shabaab, which in early 2020 launched an attack on a US installation in Kenya that killed a US soldier and two US contractors.
CNN previously reported that it has become immeasurably more difficult for the US intelligence community and the US military to gather the information necessary to carry out counterterrorism strikes against ISIS and other targets in Afghanistan without US troops on the ground. ground.
The Biden administration and military commanders have insisted they have what the military calls “on the horizon” capabilities – the ability to monitor and conduct counterterrorism strikes from a distance – that they need to. uncover and prevent terrorist planning in Afghanistan. But former officials, lawmakers and others have cast doubts on the administration’s plan, saying they saw few details to back it up.
Haines said Monday that the intelligence community is developing “indicators so that we can understand what things we are likely to see in the event that there is a reconstitution” of terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
This means ensuring that “we have sufficient collection to monitor these indicators, so that we can provide a warning to the political community, to the operators, so that they are able to take action in the event that we see this. “, she said.
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