WASHINGTON, July 14 (KUNA) -- The so-called Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda are targeting the US aviation sector, and aerial defence capabilities, a US intelligence official said on Thursday.
The remarks were made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's National Counterterrorism Center chief Nicholas Rasmussen at a House hearing alongside FBI Director James Comey and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Rasmussen noted to a "persistent effort by our terrorist adversaries to target the aviation sector.
"While there's much more I could say in a classified setting on this, I can say here that both Al-Qaeda and IS remain focused on defeating our defenses against aviation-related attacks," he said.
The official went on to highlight the groups' increasing ability to communicate amongst one another "outside our reach through the use of encrypted applications."
Furthermore, he mentioned that the time that attacks are being organised and conducted has become "extremely compressed."
This is "placing much greater pressure on law enforcement and intelligence," he said, noting to a decrease on the other hand of complex years-long planning.
Just this month the FBI arrested four people "who are moving on that path from consuming to acting on violence," according to FBI Director James Comey.
"We all know, there will be a terrorist diaspora out of the caliphate as military force crushes the caliphate.
"Those thousands of fighters are going to go someplace. Our job is to spot them and stop them before they come to the United States to harm innocent people," he said.
For his part, DHS Secretary Johnson said he was concerned about violence at the upcoming Republican and Democratic presidential election party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia respectively held over four days each in two weeks.
"We have, within DHS, some 3,000 personnel that will be dedicated to the security of the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, each consisting of Secret Service, TSA, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs Border Protection, NPPD, Coast Guard," he said.
"I know that there will be at least another 1,000 or so US Government personnel in hand in both places, a number in Cleveland of the Ohio Guard, as well as probably thousands in terms of state and local law enforcement," he added. (end)