tv Newsmakers Nick Rasmussen CSPAN October 22, 2017 10:01am-10:35am EDT
>> this morning, we take a look ,t counterterrorism efforts reacts to media reports about a phone call. after that, george w. bush talks about interference in the 2016 election and the state of u.s. politics. towards iranolicy in light of president trump's decision to decertify the nuclear agreement.
step tonecessary to grade and defeat the organization. and we have known for some time he would be losing these so they have thought about how to maintain their reach even in the absence of a physical caliphate. while i look at the positive results on the ground with a lot of satisfaction. i also have a sense that we will be dealing with an enduring threat condition. ,n terms of global terrorism they are inspiring individuals overseas to take action on behalf of the group. when youo that even
are operating on the run or in a constrained physical environment. minimizing the progress we have made. i'm pointing out some of the will be within their reach, even within this degraded form. a significant number of attacks ins year have no question terms of command-and-control. individuals operating on their own at the inspiration of the organization, those individuals are not disappearing from the scene. do you see them becoming more like al qaeda in that respect? ways come yes,me in terms of a distributed sought tout al qaeda clandestine command
effort they're controlled who protest of painted in the organization. morehas been much movement to be a mass with low barriers to entry. if you say you are isis and want to act on their behalf coming you are in. more difficult problem to address. even as the organization loses bringb, it can individuals into the movement or encourage them to act on behalf of the movement, and that is different than al qaeda. have you seen the number of fighters trying to leave syria into europe? nicholas: if you look back the
last couple of years, our european partners have done more to make it a more difficult to travel from the conflict zone to europe. gamehave upped their own in terms of tracking individuals theirve gone from countries to iraq in syria and sharing that information with other partners so we can all be trying toomeone is travel back into europe to carry out an attack. ago when theears numbers were steadily increasing, we thought there would be a huge reverse outflow when the conflict ended, thousands and thousands of people who win and would come out and show up in europe or other places . we now think of it less in terms of a mass outflow. will remain tos
fight and die on behalf of their losing caliphate, but what we do focus on is quality more than quantity, individuals who have .kill sets or networks if they leave the battlefield and show up in the european capital, that would be a tremendous concern. you are talking about people with bomb making skills? access it to, and networks who use chemicals on the battlefield in iraq and syria. as a terrorism official you can wrap your head around all type of scenario's it could happen. scenarios that could happen. can you give us an idea of
the leadership, the state it is in now? is the command-and-control really functioning? our assessment is that there is command and control at senior levels. we have had some success degrading that apparatus. pressure we put on the organization to cause it to physically relocate into less urban areas of the euphrates makes it harder to communicate with stations, affiliates, colleagues around the world. that said, it is one of the things about isis that is interesting, how bureaucratized the organization had become over time. they took on many of the characteristics of the government, including ing certainze
functions, one aimed at guiding operations and activities around the world. we have made that less effective, but not eliminated it. how are they doing on recruiting? where are the fighters coming from now? nicholas: the flow to the conflict zone has slowed dramatically. we don't see anything like 2014-2015, where the numbers were increasing month by month by the hundreds. isiswe see now are affiliate organizations around the world seeking to recruit extremists in their area and say, fight here. create something here. it is something we are concerned about in southeast asia. our philippines colleagues are fighting quite hard in the southern philippines against an isis affiliate and group that
has maintain control on a southern island. that is one example. it is a place where before you would have seen those fighters syria, go to iraq and and now they carry out their agenda at home. brian: i want to bring us to west africa. u.s. special a forces unit was ambushed on the border. to islamic state's presence in west africa. u.s. is involved in counterterrorism operations there and what the threat emanating from there is? isis prioritize creating a presence for itself leapst africa, looking to off a platform that already harem wasboko
already a threat to the nations of west africa. isis was able to tap into that and creative prisons. i would not point to that isis prisons as being directly threatening to the united states , but what concerned us was the create a safe haven, mimicking what they accomplished in iraq and syria. control the territory and give the organization the ability to carry out attacks that ultimately might threaten u.s. interests. i would distinguish it from isis
activity emanating from iraq and syria. of ourthe bulwarks counterterrorism is to embolden nations so we don't have to take on every potential threat. the effort in west africa has been to enable military and intelligence partners to increase their skill sets and capabilities so they can take on the problem themselves. that is undoubtedly what our military forces were engaged in when that horrible event happened a week or so ago. is there a concern that islamic state or al qaeda can push into niger? i don't know i can
point to any particular trend line that says we are headed in a worsted direction. this will require a sustained effort over time. they need to hold this threat at a or defeat it. -- at bay or defeated. resources spread our around the globe more than we have in the past because isis has more presence in places. i mean in the broadest public oh sense, diplomatic, intelligence, to dot-infinite capacity advise and assist operations with our military. we have to make choices about effective.n be more west africa is an area we have prioritized. where are some of the other places where isis is gaining a
toehold? nicholas: i mentioned southeast asia because the trajectory is in an upward direction. it concerns me particularly the 2004-2006, we were dealing with an al qaeda linked terrorist group that carried out the bali bombings and other bombings in indonesia that were quite devastating. inthere is a capacity southeast asia for extremism to manifest itself in terrorism. if isis taps into that successfully it could create original threat we have not seen in the last several years. i would point also to north africa, not just west africa.
again, a wide range of terrorists and extremists groups predating isis operated in libya, algeria, morocco, and so on the scenef isis only added another player to what was already a difficult terrorism situation. i would characterize it largely as a local problem, a significant threat to our interests, rather than something truly transnational. look far tove to see africa is close to europe. those are not just iraq and syrian fighters we worry about. we worry about fighters from the african continent.
do you see any isis presence in the united states other than people inspired by? isholas: by and large that her biggest concern in the united states. individuals motivated by, inspired by, tapping into the isis ideology. we certainly don't see at present the kind of clandestine cell structure we worried about when we were doing with al qaeda after 9/11. the organization does not run itself in the same way. , i have to beean careful in terms of what it means for actual threat. in some ways it is a harder threat to counter act in the united states.
when you are dealing with the network, you only have to find one entry point to learn what the network is up to. an individual largely acting on their own with only passive isis'sions to a nice leadership, the challenge for local law enforcement is much greater. how do you identify the person who may be sitting home alone consuming extremist materials and ultimately thinking about but didut an attack nothing along the way that would give us a clue that is happening? was confident if we could get our hands on some bit of information that would give us an entry point, we had the wherewithal to unravel the plot before it could take place. a u.s. official in london
last week told the audience that terror groups are trying to usingnize themselves aircraft. can you tell us about this specific threat? whatcholas: secretary duke was referring to was terrorists groups, both isis and al qaeda, continue to prioritize the aviation sector. that is a fact. , ay view it as iconic success in taking out aviation as attacking aviation would have disproportionate benefits to them. it would create disproportionate economic harm on the united states, disproportionate political harm to western and it would create disproportionate benefits to those terrorist organizations in terms of their reach and recruitment.
of all the things bad guys can do, aviation is a preoccupation. they continue to focus on trying to attack us collectively in that way. are improving we every day with our screening and defensive capabilities. a constant push and pull as they are coming up with ever more clever ways to get explosives aboard airplanes or otherwise attacking aircraft. it is part of the terrorism problem set that gives me the most concern every day, aviation. one because of the continued prioritization with al qaeda and isis. secondly, with aviation security of thee always at risk lowest common denominator in an aviation security system. you can have incredibly high standards and performance in terms of aviation security at
some airports, and at other airports you have observed your selves that standards are lakhs and capabilities not up to snuff. -- lax and capabilities not up to snuff. secretary duke and dhs are leading that effort. she is right to highlight it. would use thef i words 9/11-style attack because that conjures up something specific in most people's minds, but she is right. terrorists seek to attack us in the aviation sector as an effective way of getting what they want. how many investigations are currently open in the u.s.? hadolas: secretary comey
referred to over 1000 terrorism investigations in the united .tates terrorism investigations can cover a wide swath of ground, individuals suspected of attacking to the conflict zone but have not carried out a terrorist act that intelligence they would have gone to iraq in syria to fight on behalf of isis. you can have individuals doing fundraising activities, propaganda activities. i don't want to say that there are 1000 plots with individuals set to do something in the united states to carry out a terrorist attack. terrorist activity spans a wind range of activity.
brian: do you see any downward trend in the caseload? nicholas: not to this point, no. this goes to the point i was making about raqqa. formnk isis in its current took a couple of years to wind up to the point where it posed the threat it poses, and it would take some number of years to unwind the threat that has emerged from isis. one of the frustrating things about dealing with isis as an ideological movement is there movement seems adept at dealing with success and failure. winning, the narrative is come to iraq and syria. this is where it is happening. you can be part of something special. sufferinghey are
setbacks, losing territory, having their leadership attacked, their numbers decimated, the narrative is this is just one more phase and a long-term effort to get to our ultimate objective. be patient and carry out the fight in another way in another place and it will still be a contribution. it is frustrating because we think we are winning on every available measure, and i would argue we are, but that ability of the group to reach a population of extremist will be there for some time. deb: do you think we will see fewer americans go to fight? nicholas: we have seen relatively few even today. a couplers are only in of hundreds, people who wanted to go, tried to go, did go, failed to go, and it has only gotten more difficult. most individuals who have this objective know that if they
leave any physical trail, law enforcement will intervene and prevent them from traveling and likely lead to their long-term incarceration. it has come a enforcement has had a deterrent effect. it has not stopped every individual. they know they may have to circuitous travel.s i would argue the trendline is down, not up. what does the administration want to do with the guy who they've picked up who is an american citizen in syria? they can put him through the federal court system. they can transfer him to a country of his origin or where he grew up or what ever. nicholas: i can't comment on a specific case. from an intelligence
perspective, we want to gain what ever intelligence we could about that individual about pipelines, travel routes, and we certainly have had that opportunity. we have three minutes. trunk when the administration came into office, initiated a ban on immigrants entering the united states. nonetheless, the trump administration will greatly reduce the flow of refugees to increase the vetting. refugees were already the most vetted him agrees coming to the united states, two years in some cases. you were the deputy there for two years before that. vet was not being done to refugees in those years before the trump administration came into office?
that things is not weren't being done. additionalegrees of inquiry and scrutiny that you that carried you deeper and deeper into the or allow data we have you to dig more fully into potential connections, even when you don't have direct information that a person is a security concern. i would argue that wholly outside the executive order or any change in the administration, the intelligence were already well embarq on an effort to increase we could bring to the screening of vetting process. one, these are not intelligence decisions. these are decisions made by the
state department and the dhs. we contribute to a decision process. there is no immigration program without risk anytime you are admitting anybody into the country. you are accepting some degree of risk. our job is to reduce the risk associated. we gather asquires much information as we can possibly gather about a potential individuals seeking to emigrate here through a refugee program. sometimes that is harder with our information sharing arrangements are not as robust as they could be. it as a red at light-green light situation as i do a sliding scale. how much risk you do we choose as a country to accept in service of admitting this population or that population? they know where your question
started though. when i look back at the number of attacks we have had in the united states over the last vast majority of homeland attacks have been carried out by individuals who have lived here for quite a long in many cases long-standing ties to the united states, not recent arrivals as refugees. that is a numerical fact. brian: what kind of information do you think would be useful. ? susan: we have about 30 seconds. nicholas: some of the things we require from foreign partners involve travel documents, understanding how travel documents work from particular countries so we can help judge if they are real or fake, counterfeit, fraudulent. that is just one example. being ournk you for guest this week. it is a complex world, so please come back again.
nicholas: thank you for having me. susan: "newsmakers" is back after our conversation with nick rasmussen. our two guests, brian bennett and deb reichmann. what is its job really? >> his job is to take all the information from different , customs and border attection and tried to look the whole picture and make sure things aren't falling through the cracks. this was created because of the criticism that the government was not connecting the dots, so he has to be able to get the global picture and make sure all the different actors are talking to each other. it is difficult right now
is about tothreat into into a new phase. fallen, islam and state losing its hub in syria. susan: what do you hear about the threat level in the country these days? i think they fear saying it's down. i think they want to make sure they cover themselves. it is unclear as to what could happen at any particular moment. he was clear when he talked about al qaeda, and if they knew something about a threat onsibility, they could pull
a thread and uncovered because of the way al qaeda was set up, but in this case, he was talking about how these are individuals who may have not given any can't hint at ally about their plans and are inspired by a group that is far, far away, so there is no way to get on top of that. that is what they fear the most. have seen so many attacks in western europe and among our allies. what is the difference between what happens there and what is happening here in the united states? is it something endemic about society? brian: government officials in the u.s. point to a couple of things.
they point to how the u.s. has a better track record of assimilating immigrants into the , and i thinkic that assimilation is being rhetoric by current from the trump administration, but they point to this long-standing track record that the u.s. has been better at assimilating immigrants. another thing is information sharing. learned a lot after 9/11 and changed its process inside the government, and the european countries were slow to adapt to that way so there have been attacks when there have been different pieces of information with the different governments and they were not able to bring that together. the other thing is proximity. europe is closer to syria and is easier because of the visa
system and people can travel from the middle east into western europe. susan: we heard the director talk about resources and how decisions have to be made on where to deploy them. when you talk to people in the national security apparatus, did they have what they need from the federal government, budgeting process, or are there still things outstanding they would like to see get done? deb he mentioned we were thinly spread because the threat has morphed into different countries. .ou mentioned north africa i got the impression he feels like the resources are spread a bit then. susan: last question, the big event was the ambush in niger. are there more questions to be asked? do we know enough as a public?
brian: we don't know that much about what happened in the ambush. doing anmilitary is after action report now. there are early signs that the hadp that ambushed the unit connections to islamic state. stateknown that islamic and al qaeda are trying to bolster their presence there. we have a lot to learn about what is happening there and what it means to the threat against the country. susan: there were two big events recently and we heard it will be changing some of the dynamics. things to both of you for your questions for the director. brian: thank you. announcer: tonight on afterword s. >>
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