US intelligence agencies are taking steps to crack down on a new generation of homegrown violent jihadists, according to a top intelligence official.
A classified report by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and the National Security Agency (NSA) indicates the new generation is much more violent than ever, with more than 700 new threats in 2016, including over 600 deaths, according a report published Monday.
“As a result, we have begun to focus our intelligence activities on these groups,” said retired General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA.
“This includes efforts to identify them and disrupt their recruitment and travel.
This includes targeting individuals who travel to Syria, Iraq, or Somalia, and the like.
And it includes efforts at home, as well.”
The NCTC report, obtained by The Hill, shows that at least half of the terrorist groups targeted in the report were born outside the US, including in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey.
“In many cases, the threat was brought to the attention of the FBI by the CIA, NSA, or other agencies and the FBI and DHS then provided assistance to those organizations to counter the threat,” the report states.
“While many of the groups we identify have been established in the US for decades, we are seeing a growing number of homegrown terrorists.”
The report found the number of new threats grew by more than 100 percent from 2015 to 2016.
According to the NCTC, “The majority of these new threats are originating from the United States, with some originating from countries outside the United Kingdom, France, and Spain.”
The study noted that while the majority of the threats originated outside the country, a “small number” were brought to US soil, mostly by people who had entered the country illegally.
It also noted that the majority are younger than 20 years old.
The report noted that in some cases, people who have traveled abroad to fight with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have been identified by the FBI.
The NCTCs report also detailed the increasing sophistication of the domestic terrorist threat.
“The FBI’s global threat assessment shows that we now face a significant and growing domestic threat, including individuals who may have connections to al-Qaida, or have previously participated in terrorist activities in the United State,” the NCTCs noted.
“The FBI believes that the threat is now largely internal and does not need to be addressed through heightened external and domestic intelligence activities.”
In recent years, the NCTs report notes, al-Shabaab, the al-Nusra Front, and al-Tawhid wal-Jihadist, an al-Qa’ida affiliate, have expanded in Somalia.
The NCTCs reported that al- Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AqIM), a group which operates in Libya and Syria, has expanded in Libya, Somalia and the Middle East.