Last weekend a 100 minute videotape featuring several Al Qaeda leaders was released. The purpose, in part, was to eulogize Osama bin Laden Included were comments by the American born Adam Gadahn:
Muslims in the West have to remember that they are perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the Jihad against the Zionists and crusaders, and to do major damage to the enemies of Islam, waging war on their religion, sacred places, and things, and brethren. This is a golden opportunity and a blessing. Let’s take America as an example. America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?
On Wednesday FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee:
The FBI has never faced a more complex threat environment than it does today. Over the past year, we have seen an extraordinary array of national security and criminal threats, from terrorism and espionage to cyber attacks and traditional crimes. These threats have ranged from attempts by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to place bombs on airplanes bound for the United States to lone actors seeking to detonate IEDs in public squares and subways, intent on mass murder.
A month ago, the successful operation in Pakistan leading to Usama bin Laden’s death created new urgency for this threat picture. While we continue to exploit the materials seized from bin Laden’s compound, one of the early assessments from this intelligence is that Al Qaeda remains committed to attacking the United States. In addition, we are focused on the new information about the homeland threat gained from this operation.
We also continue to face the threat from adversaries, like Anwar Alaqui, who are engaged in efforts to radicalize people in the United States to commit acts of terrorism. In the age of the Internet, these radicalizing figures no longer need to meet or speak personally with those they seek to influence. Instead, they conduct their media campaigns from remote regions of the world, intent on fostering terrorism by lone actors here in the United States.
On Thursday CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee:
The death of Osama bin Laden is a significant blow to al Qa’ida and brings us closer to its strategic defeat. However, al-Qa’ida remains a potent, dangerous, and adaptable foe. Its close allies, such as Pakistan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, have increasingly adopted al-Qa’ida’s jihadist vision and, as core al-Qa’ida is weakened, there is a risk that decentralized affiliates may pose an increased threat to the United States. To achieve the President’s objective of defeating al-Qa’ida and preventing its return to either Pakistan or Afghanistan, it is vital that we continue to aggressively pursue our accelerated counterterrorism campaign in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.
Al-Qa’ida and its adherents are diverse, dispersed, and decentralized. They are present in the Arabian Peninsula, North and East Africa, South Asia, Iraq, and elsewhere around the globe, including within the United States. Intent and ability to attack the United States varies by group, but such attacks are a common theme in their propaganda and planning. Bin Laden himself remained very focused on attacking the Homeland. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula has already demonstrated both the intent and the capability to conduct attacks against the United States. Despite the death of Bin Laden, core Al-Qa’ida and its adherents in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region remain a very dangerous threat.