Nicholas Rasmussen: Terror Landscape Veers From Central Leadership

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networkNicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, outlined the center’s efforts to combat current terrorist threats around the world during testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.

“[Our] attention is concentrated on the security crises in Iraq and Syria—and rightly so. But we continue to detect, disrupt, and defeat threats from across the threat spectrum,” Rasmussen in his written remarks to lawmakers.

The U.S. directs its counterterrorism efforts to monitor homegrown violent extremists as terrorist groups leverage social media to spread propaganda and the terrorist landscape veers away from centralized leadership, solid group identity and scattered agendas, he told the committee.

According to Rasmussen, the threat in the West focuses more on lone offenders or small terrorist networks and infrequent but longer-term operations, while Africa, Asia and the Middle East experience terrorist activities more frequently and at a larger scale.

Both regions also share concerns about foreign fighters traveling to Syria to support the Islamic State group and either return to their home countries to conduct attacks or expand to other extremist activities, he added.

He also discussed other terrorist actors based in Pakistan and Afghanistan such as core and affiliate Al-Qaida groups, as well as the Iran-sponsored Hezbollah group.

Rasmussen told SSCI that NCTC is working with the intelligence community and international partners to monitor threats and uses the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment to track the travel activity of known or suspected terrorists and manage identity records.

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