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Al-Qaida, Boston Bombing Become Top Priorities for House Homeland Security Committee

Al-Qaida, Boston Bombing Become Top Priorities for House Homeland Security Committee

By Daniel Buchanan

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told attendees at a recent American Bar Association meeting that addressing al-Qaida is among the top goals of his term.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, addresses the Fifth Annual National Institute on Internal Corporate Investigations and Forum for In-House Counsel

“I think that the events in Boston are a stark reminder that the threat unfortunately is alive and well,” McCaul said. “We can’t return to the pre-9/11 mentality, and we need to remain vigilant.”

Speaking at the Fifth Annual National Institute on Internal Corporate Investigations and Forum for In-House Counsel, hosted by the ABA Criminal Justice Section, McCaul said that although the U.S. has taken out some of al-Qaida’s top leaders, the terrorist group is evolving.

“It is a new phase they’re in, the al-Qaida movement, that really reaches out in a more franchise way, and also a new strategy to get U.S. residents and U.S. citizens who are already in the United States radicalized like we saw recently,” he said.

Many of the tactics used in the Boston Marathon bombing seem to be foreign-inspired, and McCaul anticipated that the death penalty will be sought for the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Before the bombing, the FBI investigated one of the suspects, who was also put on watch lists by the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security, but McCaul said the three agencies failed to exchange critical information, such as warnings of one suspect’s trip to Chechnya.

Although McCaul acknowledged that the agencies have stopped multiple planned attacks in the past, he said better communication between the groups could have led to a reopening of the FBI investigation and perhaps prevented the bombing.

“My job as chairman is to make sure that DHS, FBI and CIA are all working together to stop this from happening in the future,” McCaul said.

McCaul is also worried about the possibility of domestic attacks by people who seek to mimic the terrorists.

“Most Americans did not know what a pressure-cooker bomb was and now most Americans do. A lot of Americans know they can look on the Internet to find out how to build one,” McCaul said. “I am concerned about copycats, people who may not be inspired by the jihadist movement but are just trying to get attention.”

McCaul said the committee will continue to work on the issue. He plans to attend a series of hearings after the next recess to examine the events of the Boston Marathon bombing, revisit all unanswered questions and finalize a report.

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