Rogers Opening Statement at a Hearing on Threats to the Homeland
WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, today delivered an opening statement at a hearing entitled “Global Terrorism: Threats to the Homeland, Part I.”
We are once again at the anniversary of September 11th, 2001. Thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives that morning. Our nation has not been the same since.
Those horrible acts were carried out by an organized, trained, and determined terrorist network. Thousands of brave men and women have given their lives to eliminate this threat to our homeland and our way of life.
This anniversary is a somber reminder of their sacrifices. During the past 18 years, the United States and our allies dealt a decisive blow to Al Qaeda.
More recently we’ve broken the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, we cannot lose sight of the continued danger posed by Al Qaeda and its affiliates
Al Qaeda is rebuilding, expanding its ranks and safe havens, and remains intent on attacking the United States. Since the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS, al Qaeda and its affiliates have grown to approximately 40,000 members.
Their ranks now include battle-hardened specialists and bomb makers. This new generation of experts has honed their skills in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Northern Africa.
Al Qaeda’s participation in battles throughout the Middle East and Africa have also rebuilt the credibility of a once shattered organization. The group’s propaganda operation has been learning as well.
They watched ISIS recruit thousands, including young men from al Qaeda’s own ranks, using the latest social media tools.
Now they’re exploiting the same tools. Public statements from al Qaeda senior leaders on social media platforms have increased by 67 percent over the past several years.
The terror organization is reintroducing its movement and targeting a new generation of fighters. Their message is clear: a continued commitment to target the U.S. homeland and a call for unity across jihadist factions.
Recent U.S. airstrikes targeting Al Qaeda fighters hiding and plotting external attacks from Syria prove that the group remains a serious threat.
The FBI told us in May that they are actively investigating over 1,000 cases of individuals in the United States inspired by Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations. This Committee exists because of a horrific attack carried out by Al Qaeda.
Through oversight and legislation, it is our job to ensure DHS can prevent another attack.
Unfortunately, since Democrats took the majority, we haven’t had a single full Committee oversight hearing focused on the threat from foreign terrorists.
Nor have we moved a comprehensive DHS authorization bill to strengthen the Department’s ability to prevent attacks.
Our recent focus on domestic terrorism is important, but we cannot let the Department, or this Committee, lose sight of the serious and ongoing threat from foreign terrorists.
I hope our witnesses today will articulate the challenges facing DHS and provide recommendations to enhance our ability to defeat these and other emerging threats to our homeland.
Finally, I share the Chairman’s frustration that DHS, the FBI, and the National Counter Terrorism Center could not be here today.
Our Committee has a long-standing tradition of hearing from these witnesses each fall. Like Chairman Thompson, I expect them to appear before the Committee as soon as possible