Counter-terrorism pressure has degraded al-Qaeda and the terror group is now more likely to focus on supporting small-scale, readily achievable attacks against the US and its allies' interests in AfPak region, the FBI told lawmakers on Wednesday.
"Al-Qaeda maintains its desire for largescale spectacular attacks. However, continued counter-terrorism pressure has degraded the group, and in the near term it is more likely to focus on supporting small-scale, readily achievable attacks against the US and allied interests in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region," FBI Director Christopher Wray said.
"Simultaneously, over the last year, propaganda from al-Qaeda leaders seeks to inspire individuals to conduct their own attacks in the US and the West," he told members of a Senate committee during a Congressional hearing on threats to the homeland.
Russell Travers, Acting Director, National Counterterrorism Center told lawmakers that enduring threat from the al-Qaeda network, the group continues to suffer setbacks; yet, it has enjoyed some success strengthening the resilience and cohesiveness of its global network.
For instance, the group's media releases this year have adapted faster to current events, featuring synchronized statements from leaders including Ayman al-Zawahiri.
"We are concerned that improved coordination among its geographically dispersed nodes as reflected in its media efforts could improve the network's ability to advance its long-held, core goal of striking the Homeland," he said.
The group, he said, maintains a global reach through its network of affiliates, led by seasoned veterans who work to advance its violent agenda.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) continues to focus its efforts on South Asia for recruitment and publishes content in local languages, Travers said.
Finally, al-Qaeda retains close ties with a variety of militant and terrorist elements that threaten US interests including the Taliban and Haqqani Network, as well as Syria-based Hurras al-Din, which includes several al-Qaeda veterans and allies among its ranks, he told the lawmakers.
(With inputs from agencies.)