FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the bureau is currently investigating over 5,000 terrorism cases around the world. Wray’s disclosure came on Wednesday morning during his report to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, as reported by ABC News.
In a prepared report to the committee, Wray said, “Right now, as I sit here, we’re currently investigating about 5,000 terrorism cases across America and around the world, and about a thousand of those cases are homegrown violent extremists, and they are in all 50 states.”
As part of his testimony, Wray identified the growing threat of homegrown terrorism has come to rival the threat of large-scale international terrorism from groups like Al-Qaeda. Wray believes that HVE’s (homegrown terrorists), influenced by the global jihadist movement and what they see on social media outlets, are difficult to identify as they “self-radicalize” without necessarily belonging to a larger organization. Additionally, their ability to attack without a coordinated effort allows them the freedom that makes them unpredictable.
“National security remains the FBI’s top priority, and counterterrorism is still a paramount concern, but that threat has changed significantly since 9/11,” Wray said. “This HVE threat has created a whole new set of challenges with a much greater number, much greater volume of threats, and each one of them with far fewer dots to connect and much less time to interrupt an attack.”
Wray’s statements were followed by a dispatch from Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Travers contested that interest in global and local terrorism has grown exponentially over the past 15 years.
“Our terrorist identities database has expanded by well over an order of magnitude since 2003,” Travers told the committee.
Based on Wray and Travers’ testimony, it is unclear whether the United States is actually winning the war on terrorism. The 2017 Global Terrorism Index identified a 22 percent drop in the number of terrorism deaths around the world from its peak in 2014, largely due to the steady defeat of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the deterioration of ISIL, whose desperate last-gasp measures inflated the terrorism statistics. However, some disturbing trends have emerged. More nations saw a death by terrorist attack last year than in any year of this century, and over two-thirds of indexed nations reported a terrorist attack. Furthermore, the disbanding of these organizations still leaves a number of their displaced followers unaccounted for and at large. Many of these individuals are the source for the type of HVE attack that Wray is warning against.