The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned that dozens of American citizens are clandestinely communicating with the Islamic State from their homes in the continental United States.
In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, FBI Director James Comey said that the FBI’s resources are being pushed to the limit in their campaign to stop the Islamic State supporters. Comey warned that some of the jihadi sympathizers are using advanced, encrypted software to mask their communications with the radical group, making it virtually impossible for the FBI to monitor them.
“ISIS is sending a poisonous message that buzzes in the pockets of troubled souls, unmoored people, all day long,” Comey said in his remarks. “The challenge we face is finding those needles in a nationwide haystack, assessing where they are on a spectrum between consuming this poison and acting on it, and disrupting them before they act.”
Director Comey praised the success of his agency in stopping ISIS-affiliated American terrorists before they could act upon their goals.
“This summer we were following dozens and dozens of people, all over the United States, 24/7,” he said. “We disrupted a lot of those people.”
But ISIS’s appeal still resonates among America’s youth, he warned.
“It seems to be drifting younger, with more girls — by girls, I mean women under the age of 18 — with whom this message on social media is resonating,” Comey said.
Comey discussed how it was essential for the government to work with the private sector, once a court order has been granted, to infiltrate the ISIS-sympathizers’ communications network.
The FBI Director also discussed the possibility that some Syrian refugees making their way to the U.S. could be part of ISIS.
“We have to be care about doing it. There’s no such thing as a risk-free enterprise,” he stated.
But Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Jeh Johnson has insisted that the government is capable of screening the refugees, even though many do not have any documentation with them. He said that their names will be scanned through databases to check whether they are on a terror list. “But this is a population of people that we’re not going to know a whole lot about,” Johnson admitted.