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Matthew Olsen: Al-Qaida’s Network ‘Less Centralized’

Matthew Olsen
Matthew Olsen

Matthew Olsen, director of National Counterterrorism Center, has testified on the homeland security threat picture and how the NCTC responds to it before the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Olsen told House lawmakers on Wednesday that terrorist threat has continued to grow and become more diffused across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

He said the Al-Qaida group has decentralized its terrorist movement amid continued counterterrorism operations worldwide.

“This diffusion has also led to the emergence of new power centers and an increase in threats by networks of like-minded violent extremists with allegiances to multiple groups,” Olsen said.

“Ultimately, this less centralized network poses a more diverse and geographically dispersed threat and is likely to result in increased low-level attacks against U.S. and European interests overseas,” he told the House committee.

Olsen outlined during his testimony the threats posed by the Islamic State group, Al-Qaida core and Afghanistan/Pakistan-based groups, Al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent, South Asia-based militants, Al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula and Boko Haram in Nigeria, among other terrorist groups.

NCTC works to identify “suspected international terrorists, their contacts and their support networks” with the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database, according to Olsen.

“NCTC, (the) FBI, and DHS are part of a broader U.S. government and international effort to resolve the identities of potential violent extremists and identify potential threats emanating from Syria,” he said.

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