US counter-terrorism agents have tracked down dozens of potential Daesh (ISIL) recruits around the US, disrupting their terrorist plots, claims the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Speaking to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Thursday, FBI Director James Comey said FBI agents were working full time during the summer, trying to foil potential threats coming from Daesh proxies in the US, Reuters reported Friday.
He added that US investigators were aware of numerous US-based militant suspects who, according to him, used encrypted communications.
The security official further maintained that recruits were becoming younger, and more women under 18 were seeking to join the Takfiri group.
Comey also referred to the group’s widespread use of social media for recruitment purposes and mastery of technical skills to hide away their tracks on the Internet, giving their recruits the opportunity to safely consider their offers without fear of getting in trouble.
“When they find a live one, they will move them off Twitter, and move them to an end-to-end encrypted messaging app,” Comey noted. He said to read such encrypted message traffic, the FBI would need a court order.
‘ISIL dethrones al-Qaeda as leader of extremism’
Another speaker to the panel was Nick Rasmussen, director of the National Counter-terrorism Center, who estimated some 250 Americans had traveled to militant-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria to fight for militant groups or train them.
However, he noted that this number is dwarfed by the total of about 5,000 westerners who are believed to have joined the Takfiri groups in the last three years.
Rasmussen said that Daesh had overtaken al-Qaeda as the leader of the global violent extremist movement and enjoyed access to potential Western recruits on a large scale.
He further noted that according to US estimates, since 2012 as many as 28,000 foreigners have gone to the troubled region.
Rasmussen admitted that Washington’s security intelligence about the conflict zone in the Middle East was inadequate. He also said US and allied intelligence officials were not satisfied with their level of control over the flow of foreign extremists to the region.