Sept. 22, 2010 -- The nation's top counterterrorism officials were blunt. The threat from within---of Americans willing to commit terrorist acts--- is growing. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a congressional hearing today that a spike in recent terrorism cases is direct evidence of the evolving threat.
"Groups affiliated with al Qaeda are now actively targeting the United States and looking to use Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures," Mueller said. "It appears domestic extremism and radicalization appears to have become more pronounced based on the number of disruptions and incidents."
Mueller appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee along with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and National Counterterrorism Chief Michael Leiter.
"Homegrown terrorists represent a new and changing facet of the terrorist threat." Napolitano said, "To be clear, by homegrown, I mean terrorist operatives who are U.S. persons, and who were radicalized in the United States."
The officials all pointed to a series of recent incidents that show that al Qaeda, its affiliates and associates were more active than ever.
"During the past year our nation has dealt with the most significant developments in the terrorist threat to the Homeland since 9/11," Leiter told the committee. "The attack threats are now more complex, and the diverse array of threats tests our ability to respond, and makes it difficult to predict where the next attack may come.
The attacks cited included:
The averted May 1 bombing in Times Square by Faisal Shahzad.