FBI Director James Comey has warned that the United States is at its greatest terrorism threat level since 9/11.
Speaking at a Senate FBI oversight hearing, Comey’s comments are in direct response from a question from Senator Lindsey Graham who questioned whether America was at a greater risk from terrorism since the 9/11 attacks.
“Do you agree with the following statement: There are more terrorist organizations with men, equipment and safe havens, along with desire to attack the American homeland, anytime since 9/11?” the Senator Graham asked the FBI Director.
“I agree,” Comey responded.
Comey said budget cuts imposed by Congress in recent years have reduced the FBI’s ability to protect America from terrorism.
“What do you think the likelihood of another 9/11 against the homeland will be if we don’t destroy the caliphate in Syria and in Iraq in the next year?” Graham asked.
“That’s certainly a hard question for me to answer,” Comey said. But, he added, “Their ability to have a safe haven from which to gather resources, people, plan and plot increases the risk of their ability to mount a sophisticated attack against the homeland.”
Comey’s comments were made following several global terrorist attacks over the last month inFrance, Egypt and Nigeria, as well as the attack in San Bernardino, California, last week which claimed the lives of 14 people.
Comey said the attack in San Bernardino was an act of terrorism committed by people radicalized by organizations at least inspired by ISIS.
Comey added that “people who know better than I” agree that “fiery rhetoric” about Muslims puts the lives of American soldiers, diplomats and FBI agents in the Middle East in jeopardy, a reference that comes in the wake of controversial statements made by GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.