Afghanistan unrest could inspire extremism inside US – KIRO 7 News Seattle

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WASHINGTON – (AP) – The possibility of a 9/11 attack has diminished over the past 20 years, but the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan could encourage U.S.-based extremists while the FBI faced increasing threats from motivated individuals is due to racist and political grievances, senior national security officials warned on Tuesday.

Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the terrorist threat to the country was less “acute” than it was two decades ago and that the threat posed in Afghanistan by groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State is currently a primarily regional threat. And FBI Director Christopher Wray said that while extremist groups have never stopped planning attacks against the US, the FBI is better positioned to stop them.

Even so, the collapse of the Afghan government and the potential preponderance of foreign terror groups could inspire Westerners to commit violence, officials said. This is on top of a number of domestic terrorism cases which, according to Wray, have “exploded” from around 1,000 investigations to around 2,700 since the spring of 2020.

“We are concerned that there will be more inspiration for the first bucket given the developments in Afghanistan, among other things,” Wray said of the international threat from terrorism. “So I think we unfortunately expect growth in both categories as we look to the next few years.”

US officials say they are monitoring the situation in Afghanistan after the rapid Taliban flash, particularly with regard to how al-Qaida or ISIS could be rebuilt to launch an attack on the US

“I think it is fair to say that we need to monitor the evolution of these groups’ external operational capabilities and assess whether this is happening faster than we otherwise predicted,” Abizaid said. “Afghanistan is currently a very dynamic environment.”

Officials also defended the screening process they put in place to investigate the backgrounds of the Afghan refugees who have applied for entry into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said the number of refugees denied entry is minimal because “We haven’t found many individuals with derogatory information regarding” those who qualify for admission to the United States by their status. “

“The (screening) architecture, which has been built for over 20 years since September 11, remains and has only strengthened,” he said. “We have a screening and verification architecture. We have greater cooperation between federal agencies in the areas of counter-terrorism, intelligence and law enforcement. We remain vigilant in this regard. “

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Associate press writer Ben Fox contributed to this report.

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP