FBI, Pentagon unsure how close Khorasan Group was to US strike

The FBI and the Pentagon said on Thursday that they did not know exactly how close the Khorasan Group, an al Qaeda offshoot the U.S. bombed in Syria, was to an attack on the U.S.

The Obama administration had previously described the threat as "imminent."

"It's hard to say whether that's tomorrow, three weeks from now or three months from now," FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMystery in Mueller probe: Where’s the hacking indictment? Press: Why Trump should thank FBI Trump administration sued for not releasing FBI morale survey results MORE told reporters, according to The Associated Press. "But it's the kind of threat you have to operate under the assumption that it is tomorrow."

"We don't have complete visibility," Comey said of Syria, but added that "what I could see concerned me very much that they were working toward an attack."

Similarly, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. did not know how close the group was to striking.

"I don't know that we, you know, can pin that down to a day or month or week or six months. It doesn't matter," Kirby said.

"I mean, so we can have this debate about, you know, whether it was valid to hit them or not or whether it was too soon or too late," Kirby later added. "We hit them. And I don't think, you know, we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes."

Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Tuesday that the attack was "imminent." When asked how imminent, he said he would not get into "specific details of plotting."

Comey said on Thursday: "I don't know exactly what that word means."

"In this business, given the nature of the people involved, and what we could see, we assumed and acted as if [the attack would come] tomorrow," he added.

Kirby said that he did not want to get into too much detail, but said: "What I'll tell you is, they were in the advanced stages, near the end stages of planning an attack on a Western target. We don't know whether it was in Europe or the U.S. homeland, but we know that they were getting close."