WASHINGTON, D.C.--ISIS and Al Qaeda are still operating, but may be much less of a threat than they used to be. Rep. Andre Carson (D), questioned FBI Director Chris Wray and National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, during an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on threats to the U.S.
“Is it your assessment that Afghanistan is still the primary safe haven for international terrorists, or has that shifted to Syria or East Africa,” asked Carson, at Thursday morning’s hearing.
Haines answered the question.
“The primary threats as we’ve identified them are essentially Al Qaeda and ISIS,” she said. “The most concerning threats really come from and come out of Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Those are the key areas that you see for Al Qaeda, and the primary threat from ISIS really stems of Iraq and Syria.”
Haines said she believes ISIS is still really good at shaking peoples confidence in government in the countries where it operates, and is also able to acquire territory that way.
Haines said, though, that the two organizations have lost some of their punch.
“Years of sustained counterterrorism actions have degraded the ability of Al Qaeda and ISIS to attack U.S. interests and we assess really that neither group is positioned to conduct attacks against the West.”
But, she warned that either group or both, could re-energize.
Carson also asked FBI Director Wray about the likelihood that foreign groups could undermine the next mid-term election by using “deep fakes”, or essentially well-crafted phony news stories, designed to convey misinformation.
“A lot of what’s out there right now is still relatively easy to debunk,” said Wray. “But, the quality is increasing and that’s something that’s of great concern.”