During the Aspen Security Forum in Washington, FBI Director James Comey told the audience that ISIS now poses a bigger threat to American domestic security then Al-Qaeda. On Thursday he contributed the group’s ascent to its social media campaign through which militants use a hate filled message to convince troubled Americans to either join the fight in Syria and Iraq or launch lone-wolf attacks at home.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the imminent threat comes from the possible smaller-scale attacks within the country, giving the recent shootings in Chattanooga. Comey also said Wednesday that investigators haven’t determined why Mohammad Abdulazeez carried out the shootings that killed four Marines and a sailor last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Johnson said the long-term effects could come from concerns that the terror organization, ISIS, will use the large portion of land it has obtained to train fighters and then send them to the West.
The announcement comes after the Pentagon reported that Muhsin al Fadhli, a Kuwaiti-born jihadi and leader of the Khorasan Group, was killed earlier this month in a targeted strike. The strike happened July 8 while Fadhli was traveling to Sarmada. Syria. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis released a written statement saying, “His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners.”
Johnson continued to defend the White House decision not to call terrorism “Islamic terrorism” “I think ISIL believes what it’s doing is driven by religion. The Muslims I know in this country believe just the opposite. This band of criminals does not represent the overwhelming majority believes is what Islam is all about.” The threat presented by ISIS is very different in kind, type, and degree than al Qaeda. “ISIL is not your parents al Qaeda. It’s a very different model. And by virtue of that model, it’s currently the threat we are worried about in the homeland most of all.”
Comey added that with al Qaeda, would-be supporters would have to search for hidden videos from terrorists or write to them and hope for a response. But ISIS’s use of social media has changed that. “They have adopted a model in a way that takes advantage of social media in a way to crowd-source terrorism,” he said, adding that Twitter helps to sell the group’s message of “poison” to either join the caliphate or “kill where you are.”
Former CIA deputy and acting Director Michael Morell had said that ISIS wasn’t in the top three most dangerous terror groups to the U.S. Johnson acknowledged that Chattanooga shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was not on their radar and did not consider Chattanooga a high-risk area.