The nation’s top intelligence officials warned Congress on Tuesday that terrorists are “certain” to attempt another attack on the U.S. within the coming months.
CIA Director Leon Panetta said the foremost risk was of another al Qaeda attack using recruits that have relatively low or “clean” profiles that are hard to detect.
“The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11,” said Panetta. “It is that al Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect.”
Panetta’s warning came at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual threat assessment hearing.
It was echoed by Blair, FBI Director Robert Mueller, acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research John Dinger, and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, Jr.
While no one referenced specific plots against the U.S., all of the officials agreed with Blair that they were “certain” another attempt would be made in the next three to six months.
Panetta pointed to the recent failed attack that occurred on a Christmas Day flight headed to Detroit. Intelligence officers were warned about the suspected terrorist but due to a failure to “connect the dots” in a timely fashion and a profile that raised no inherent red-flags, he was able to fly under the radar.
“Obviously, they decided to make use of someone like that within a very short period of time,” Panetta said.