WASHINGTON, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - The challenges the United States faces in defending against domestic terrorism are greater and must include countering the sophisticated communications strategies of its enemies, Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating said Wednesday.
"This is a sophisticated group. They're putting out propaganda materials that are Hollywood caliber," Keating told RIA Novosti following a Homeland Security Committee hearing on Wednesday. US authorities will have to work harder to counter the messaging and propaganda IS is producing, Keating added.
"What we learned this morning is that the challenges are greater," Keating said. "I think we have more challenges... Homegrown extremists, homegrown radicalized terrorists remain the number one threat here at home."
Officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) updated members of Congress on the threat posed by IS to US domestic security, including the ability of IS to direct communications at potential recruits worldwide. Director of the NCTC, Matthew Olsen focused on the sophistication of IS's messaging, saying that it is more difficult to intercept their communications. Additionally, the group has made apparently successful use of social media platforms to conduct peer to peer recruitment.
The congressman is encouraged that the FBI will be expending more effort, and more formal efforts to counter radicalization of individuals who become "lone wolf" terrorists or join small groups. Such capabilities challenge existing counterterrorism strategies. "So the traditional lines of our defense are weaker as a result, because they're already penetrated," Keating said.
Keating played an important role in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing to push the FBI to adopt measures to prevent the kinds of intelligence shortcomings that led to the successful terrorist attack carried out by two radicalized individuals.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012, expanding its attacks to northern and western regions of Iraq in June 2014. The militants have seized vast areas in both countries and proclaimed an Islamic caliphate on all the territories under their control.