A week after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that killed fourteen people, the FBI Director told Senators that so far, there is no evidence of Islamic State terrorist cells being operational in the United States.
“Do you believe ISIL cells are already here in the America?” asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“I don’t have reason to believe that,” said FBI Director James Comey.
“So far as we can tell, they have not succeeded in penetrating our borders with their operatives; that’s an aspiration of theirs,” Comey told Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
“Instead what they’re doing is motivating individuals or very small groups of people to commit murder on their behalf,” as Comey labeled it a “crowd sourcing phenomenon.”
For investigators – and many lawmakers – it’s a logical concern in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings; could there be more attacks like this one?
At the hearing, the FBI Director said the U.S. currently faces a “staggering” array of threats, as he again urged the private sector to cooperate with law enforcement and not produce encrypted communications devices that can be used by terrorists.
The FBI chief also said he knew of no evidence that the Islamic State had tried to infiltrate the Syrian refugee program into the United States.
Comey spoke about the attempted attack in May in Garland, Texas, where police stopped two men who were trying to shoot up a “Draw Muhammad” gathering, saying one of the terrorists had sent 109 messages to a known terrorist overseas.
“We have no idea what he said, because those messages were encrypted,” said Comey.
“And to this day, I can’t tell you what he said to this terrorist, 109 times on the morning of that attack.”
“That is a big problem,” the FBI Director concluded.