tv Conference on Counterterrorism with Representative Michael Mc Caul CSPAN September 12, 2017 7:27pm-8:01pm EDT
security committee, represent michael mccaul, spoke at an event in washington, and begins with comments by comments by the center president. >> the bipartisan policy center has been working for the last eight years, and we've been delighted to do it, because of the importance of the issue, and the example they've set. but for all the success we've had preventing major terrorist attacks in the united states, the picture around the world remains grim. last year, around 25,000 people died in roughly 11,000 terrorist attacks in 104 countries around the world. three times as many deaths and
five times as many attacks in 2001. we've been very effective in disrupting terrorist groups, but they've been seemingly as good at recruiting fighters as we are at taking them off the table. the u.s. government estimates that the current fighting force of roughly 15,000 fighters is only slightly less than isis maintained in 2014. it's the persistence of this threat that has motivated us to undertake this new initiative. the task force on terrorism and ideology. and we've brought together experts to assess the role of
ideology in terrorism. and the report we're releasing today, contains the task force's initial findings and their assessment of counterterrorism efforts. and they're moving to try to transform the findings into a long term strategy for policymakers. we're eager to get your views on this work, and moving forward. leading off, it's a great honor to be joined by chairman michael mccaul, he's a longstanding leader in efforts to reform congress' oversight of the department of homeland security, and has passed the first
reauthorization bill for the department of homeland security. congressman mccaul, if you could kple please join us. [ applause ] >> it's an honor to be here. i want to thank jason for that introduction, and governor king for being here today. lee hamilton for your great work on the 9/11 commission, which still stands as the best product that has ever been produced to congress. and there's still two recommendations we haven't followed, but we look forward to doing so. and we look forward to reading this report. i was asked to speak just ten
minutes, that's hard for any elected official to talk about all the threats we face in ten minutes. but i will tell you, it's changed. i'm going to new york on sunday. i'll be at the ceremony, as i always am. it's a very moving experience. what the hijackers pulled off that fateful day would be a very difficult thing to pull off today. i think our intelligence and national security, homeland security apparatus has stopped, to your point, while terrorism is still on the rise, i think we've been able to stop and prevent a lot of plots from happening in the united states. and that's the good news. it's evolving. it's different. al qaeda, bin laden, we're looking at large-scale plots,
very complex operations. didn't use cell phones. now, we have a new generation of terrorists. under the banner of isis. a new generation that knows how to exploit the internet, to recruit, train, and radicalize. and we've seen this profoundly. it's one of the greatest challenges we have. in 2014, '15, and '16, when i wrote my book, when i would walk out of my classified briefing room in the capital, it was terrifying about the tempo, the numbers of arrests, the numbers of plots. as the caliphate was agrgrowing iraq and syria, we had people
like the master on the internet, with 150 different twitter handles, and it went from the kinetic threat, looking at foreign fighters training in iraq and syria, and going into europe, which is still a major threat to europe. and i would say europe is still in a pre-9/11 posture, and they're still learning to stand up and protect themselves. and our focus was to prevent travel of fighters into the united states. but if you can recruit over the internet, you don't have to travel. so, sending messages all over the world and into the united states to radicalize. as we've crushed the caliphate,
and i watched it grow for four years, we have a current threat to the aviation sector to bring down airlines. and it's, this threat to aviation has not ended. that was the goal of 9/11, it's still their goal today, to turn anything larger than this iphone i have into a bomb. to take on an airplane and blow it up. we just had a recent arrest in australia, isis central, command and control, to bring a large ied device on to an airline originating in australia, to blow it up. they've tested these devices. we're trying to get a handle on our detection capability to stop
these devices from getting to airplanes. we had to increase stability to make it safer. we don't want a plane flying into the united states and blowing up over the skies of the united states. but to this day, so many years later, that is still one of their number one priorities. it used to be aqap, now isis has a good handle on this. we saw the airplane that was brought down, i think the internet is their power. people ask me often, what's the difference between bin laden, al qaeda, and al baghdadi and isis? i think the answer is simple but profound, it's the reach and
bandwidth they have over the internet to recruit, train, and radicalize. and what we're seeing, we have had military access in mosul, and raqqa, we know what's coming out of there. as we squeeze that, the messages we're hearing from sheik adnani, who influenced and inspired the new york bomber, the message no longer is come to syria, it's stay where you are, and kill by me means necessary. by vehicle, by knife, by any means necessary. and we're seeing this playing out in the streets of europe. almost on a weekly basis, i get these reports.
barcelona just had one of these major events as well. i've been so proud, and yet surprised, at how we've been able to stop this from happening in the united states, given the fact of how difficult it is to detect and deter these plots when you're seeing these messages every day on the internet. how do we stop this and better protect americans? i've sat down with google, facebook, twitter, it's something that's not being talked about a lot. it's something that we're trying to work with the technology companies over. but it's a little secret. and the fact is, whether it's child pornography is illegal on the internet. jihadist material, it gets into first amendment concerns.
can the governor shut down this material? i've been trying to advocate, under their service term agreement, eradicate jihadist material, to have the twitter, when he has 150 twitter handles, and radicalizing people to kill across the world, how can we stop that? he was killed in a drone strike, but many have followed in his footsteps. and these companies, they are patriotic, but they are also a business. and who makes the decision as to what is jihadist material and what is not? so we've been working in a partnership to try to remove
this material from the internet. 9 times out of 10, when we have a lone wolf attack, in the united states or elsewhere. ft. hood, orlando, the sermons always pop up. the prophet for al qaeda and isis, he is the inspiration. and sheik adnani is the inspiration. and it's not only removing jihadist material, so they don't have the power, that's their engine, but it's also winning the war of ideology at the end of the day, and the counternarrative, isis, they had the brand name. al qaeda had some sophisticated,
high-level people. doctors, scientists. isis, not the case. it's more of a populist movement. so, at the end of the day, we do prevail because their ideology prevails over this destructive, hateful ideology, but we have to stay on top of this. i have the quote, terrorists don't check our political affiliation. i don't look at terrorism as a partisan issue, i don't manipulate it for political means. it's protecting the american people, both republicans and democrats believe in it. so, i applaud what this organization has done to touch on a matter that governor cain
advocated so strongly for it. we've implemented almost all of the 9/11 recommendations, entry/exit, to know who is coming and who is leaving the united states. we still don't have the capability to know, we kind of know who is coming in, but we don't. and we don't know who is leaving. we have to get a better handle on that. with respect to jurisdiction, i had to go through a tortured process to reauthorize this department for the first time since its creation. that was very important to do. imagine a department that doesn't exist in law. the homeland security act was passed, but many of the entities
do not exist in law. so, many of my senate partners, i urge them to pass it, it would be a great testament to do it around this time. i know we have a question and answer. there is so much more i could talk about. i'm an eternal optimist. i do think we prevail. i don't think it happens in my lifetime. i hope it happens in my children's lifetime. i will never forget being in iraq and seeing a structure and a soldier pointed to it, and said, that's the house of abraham. i thought, out of that house came the three major world religions. judaism, christianity, and islam. i look forward to when the three religions can live peacefully
under the same house. but this extremism, this islamist radical ideology, while we have significant gains and victories, but it's spreading like wildfire across the globe, and will countinue to be a thret that we need to be ever vigilant to prevent. and a lot of my wifelife's work to stop that ideology from coming into the united states and killing americans. i want to thank the center, ath governor for his report. at the end of the day, hopefully we'll live under that house in peace. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, mr. chairman.
we're pleased that you have some legislation to pass, so we won't keep you for too long. but one of the real challenges in talking about this, how do you think about the avoidance of harm. we haven't had a large-scale terrorist attack in 16 years, which is a remarkable achievement. but what do you attribute that to? is it the integration of intelligence services? >> do you have an inside pocket? >> i think the integration of our national security apparatus, and the creation of the department of homeland security, it's all about, i was a federal prosecutor, counterterrorism
prosecutor, it's the ability to detect, deter, and disrupt in advance. we're reaching about 150 isis followers arrested in the united states. we do a terrorism threat snapchat shot every month, and you can see the friend lines in this. we have 1,000 investigations in all 50 states. i just got briefed on the latest cases we've brought down a potential terrorist before they can carry out an act of violence. so, i applaud the ability of counterterrorism forces to stop this. and i use to walk out of that classified room, wondering if the next plot would happen or
not. the good news, we're seeing the trend line start to go down. i do think our military success in the caliphate had something to do with this. but europe, if you look at europe, their trend line is starting to go up. it's because foreign fighters are leaving the region, going back to where they came from. they're not integrated as well as we are, in the united states, we're better at integrating our muslim population. they're not very good at this in belgi belgium, france, and germany. and out of that came the paris attacks, brussels, you could see it coming months before. europe is starting to now get into a pre-9/11 posture, finally
realizing they have to deal with integration of their population, and information sharing. they weren't even using our watch lists, our intelligence. flights were coming in from istanbul to europe, and they weren't even checking. i think turkey has realized it's a threat, so we're seeing better cooperation on a global scale. >> and integration, we talked a lot about that last night, reallyessential. and we've always done a better job as a country of integrating and embracing communities. it seems like we're losing a little ground, and do you think that congress can do anything to
make sure we don't lose that advantage? >> classic al qaeda, very, from a compartmentalized standpoint, a larger scale, more people involved, bigger, they're looking for spectacular -- unfortunately, you say spectacular events like 9/11. you're seeing a change in this with isis, just kill whatever, however you can. that takes you from a big cell that we're able to detect more easily today, i would argue that the 9/11 cell, it was detected, as you know, they were not connected. cia had this information, didn't share it with the fbi, and it happened. i don't think it would happen today. i think we would detect that. it's a lot more difficult to detect a 1, 2, 3-man operation, or one lone wolf on the internet, radicalizing on the
internet, becoming a jihadist, and then pulling out, listening to the messages and deciding, they call it commissioner jon miller, nypd, i'm going to have dinner with him sunday night, losers to lions. they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and it hits a vulnerable population of military-age males who want to be something bigger than they are. it does target a certain population in the united states. and the question is, how do you stop that from happening? that's why i go back to the content on the internet. >> let me ask you about another aspect of the integration of our intelligence community, when the terrible attack happened, there was a lot of discussion about
the failure of imagination, and also about the tyranny of bureaucracy. a dozen could be overcome. how well have we done with that and do you think there's more work to do or do we not have an integrative functioning capability? >> i think it's far better now than it was. we've always said progress to be made. the department of homeland security is 22 different agencies under one department. fema. we're dealing with the hurricanes right now. that's part of department of homeland security. it's a counterterrorism. we have a typer element to homeland security and secret service and coast guard. but integrating that i think
over time t has become better integrated work together but also it's got to be coordinated as they do with the national security counsel, with the ic to get this real time intelligence to stop these threats. and it's more of the entity that cooperates with -- nine times otof ten it's not going to be i love the fbi, worked with them as a prosecutor. but probably thought going to be the fbi agenten the street. it's probably go being the local trooper or state police officer, nypd guy that's going to see something on the streets that doesn't look right and that's how we've been able to stop lot of bad things from happening. i think the unanswered question in my mind is how is the tempo of this?
is it going to continue to trend down or is there going to be some event where this scales out? i can tell you the ideology is very strong globally and we're seeing it pop up in asia and not just pakistan or affsgan stan. libya, tenessau. they're going to look at afghanistan as a safe haven. but now you're seeing places like the philippines where you wouldn't think or even in the caribbean we're seeing alkied a aand isis elements in places you wouldn't imagine before and in latin america. >> one or two more questions and we'll have time for a couple from the room. want to talk about resources. it's hard to get one's arms arond the magnitude of the investment but it's been tremendous and we've had had very expert folks saying it's
too much. it can't be sustained and others saying it's inadequate. how do you think of the resource commitment and where it's directed. to what extent you think there's going to be a shift away from kinetics and towards the role of soft power? how do you feel that's going to play out? >> congress is really good. we're really not so great at the prevention on the front end. we respond in crisis. and that's how the homeland security department was put together was in response to a crisis. i don't want to be in the reactive mode in the congress. i want to be proactive in terms of prevention to protect american lives. and so -- >> a little bit of the question of where resources go and how we divide between the deter,
disrupt, kinetic side of the equation. >> soft power is incredibly important. i think secretary mattis put it very well. you can cut my soft power but i'm going to make more bullets. there is an element to killing the jihadi so they can't kill us. prime minister netanyahu in israel last week. but there's also an element of drone strikes alone can't win a war of ideology and drone strikes have a negative impact on the locum community. so the soft power is a critical element with hard power. the soft power gives the negotiation power. it's also a soft power to drive this ideology off the face of the earth. the soft power is the counternarrative thet extremism
is not the way to go. they don't have a whole lot of choices. military aged males. it's like joining a glorified gang, if you will, under the banner of isis. it's cool. and they join these groups. i'm a firm believer we need to maintain our soft power to -- i think it's a combination always of soft and hard power. i think our leading generals would agree with that. you taking the soft power out and you're dealing with the bullets and the drone strikes. >> we have time for a couple of questions. i'm sure we have way more than we can address. we have one person with their hand up. so you win the prize fleet footed mike runner on their way. please let us know who you are before asking your question.
>> i'm tamara daniels, ramsey decisions. in one or two sentences, could your state what you think is the cause of terrorism or is it mono causal or multicausal and if it's multicausal, how would you state it? >> great question. i mean we can go backing to the sixth century a.d. and study the mindset. but if i had had to look historically what was a pivotal year, i would say 1979. at that point you had the ayatollah. if you go to israel, they're more concerned about the crescent moon effect of iran. so 1979 transformed the world. so you have the ayatollah coming into power under the theocracy
of radical sheau and it perm mates throughout the region in saudi where you have the attack at the mosque in saudi arabia. tilting more prowestern, liberating the role of women, going back in time to the full burke burka, women can't drive and it took things backwards. interesting that same year soviets invades afghanistan. and bin laden become as movement. interesting we're seeing russia back in the reejon for the first time in syria primarily to have the ports in syria but also to maintain their dominance. i think so much of this, as i study it and that's when the
western educated egyptian that came back and the prisons in egypt. om omar gaddafi was -- this was the change in history that gave a second wave to this sort of jihadist movement that has its roots back to 6 century a.d. and president of egypt, alceasy, they were worried about muslim brother hood and releasing the prisons, which they did at that time. joy another wave of these people out here. that has fuelled the fire. and you cannot take this back in time now. we have to move forward. there's a new crown prince that will be king with saudi. i think we're making great
strides with the arab world. qatar is still ally with iran. the crescent moon and that being iran and iraq and syria and lebanon all under the -- they are filling that vacuum, iran is. and we talk a lot about the sunni extremists, which is isis and al qaeda. we have a shea aextremism element and they're not always not on the same page. we've had a lot of bein laden forces in iran. this, i think is going to be our growing challenge moving forward sw this ideology is again with us in our lifetimes. i hope we can move forward and get back the place where we were before 1979. >> tonight c-span 3, a hearing for afghanistan, birain and the