MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - The US Department of Homeland Security is using all the resources at its disposal to prevent terrorist attacks given the Islamic State (IS) threat in the Middle East, but working in an environment where one miss can be catastrophic, Congresswoman Yvette Clark of New York said.
"I think that certainly every resource we have available is being applied to addressing the varying threats to the homeland," Clark told RIA Novosti following Wednesday hearing with Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and FBI Director James B. Comey, and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Matthew G. Olsen. "However, vigilance is the key to this, and you can never be one-hundred percent." She warned, "[All] we need is one miss for there to be a catastrophic occurrence."
American agencies responsible for homeland security were called upon to assess worldwide threats to the US, particularly with the growing influence of IS in the Middle East and its ability to recruit westerners.
According to Director Comey, the FBI has made half a dozen arrests of individuals trying to travel to Syria, or returning under suspicious circumstances. Olsen testified that he is aware of at least 100 cases of Americans traveling to Syria, presumably to become jihadis. Secretary Johnson acknowledged that the current security environment presents additional challenges to defending the US homeland.
One challenge that was the focus of a number of members of Congress in the hearing is the threat of terrorists crossing the US southern border. However, Clark told RIA Novosti that she believes those threats are exaggerated. "I believe that the threats on the southern border are far more hyped than they actually are." She stressed again the uncertainty of the security environment stating, "We're all dealing with human beings and there's human error in everything."
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.