Terrorist threats emanating from Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Iraq – ISIS in particular – pose a greater threat than those that can emerge from Afghanistan, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines told the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit. Told.
“In the context of the homeland, the threat from terrorist groups right now, we don’t prioritize Afghanistan at the top of the list,” she said, speaking by videoconference. “What we see is Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq for ISIS. That’s where we see the biggest threat.”
Haines said the primary focus for the intelligence community is now monitoring “any possible reorganization of terrorist organizations” in Afghanistan.
ISIS is still active in Syria and Iraq, although the group has been suppressed by US military presence in both countries. In Yemen, a branch of Al Qaeda based there has attempted an attack on the United States. And in Somalia, the US has carried out regular counter-terrorist attacks against al-Shabaab, which attacked a US facility in Kenya in early 2020 that killed a US soldier and two US contractors.
CNN has previously reported that it has become infinitely difficult for the US intelligence community and military to gather the information needed to carry out counter-terrorist attacks against ISIS and other targets inside Afghanistan without US troops on the ground.
The Biden administration and military commanders have insisted they have military terms “above the horizon” – the ability to conduct surveillance and remotely conduct counter-terrorist attacks – that they need to uncover and stop the terrorist plan in Afghanistan. But former officials, lawmakers and others cast doubt on the administration’s plan, saying they saw few details to support it.
Haines said on Monday that the intelligence community is “developing indicators so that we understand what we would be likely to see in the event of a reorganization of terrorist groups in Afghanistan”.
This means making sure that “we have sufficient collections to monitor against those indicators, so that we can provide warnings to the policy community, to operators, so that they are able to take action in the event that we see them,” he said.