In Brief

Terrorists planning ‘another 9/11’, US intelligence head warns

Elaine Duke says recent knife and vehicle attacks carried out to keep Isis followers engaged

Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of homeland security in the US has warned that Isis and other Islamic State terrorist groups are planning another terror attack similar to 9/11 which killed nearly 3,000 people.

“The terrorist organisations, be it Isis or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that,” Duke said during a speech to the US Embassy in London, the Daily Mail reports.

“However, in the interim they need to keep their finances flowing and they need to keep their visibility high and they need to keep their members engaged, so they are using small plots and they are happy to have small plots.”

She warned that recent attacks involving vehicles and knives were carried out to keep followers of the terror group engaged.

“Creating terror is their goal and so a van attack, a bladed-weapon attack, causes terror and continues to disrupt the world – but does not mean they’ve given up on a major aviation plot,” Duke said.

The warning closely follows MI5 director general Andrew Parker’s warning that the UK is facing its worst terrorist threat ever after the attacks in Manchester and London, the London Evening Standard reported.

Parker said that it has recently taken terrorists less time, in some cases just days, to plan attacks as they’ve started using safe spaces online to avoid being detected.  

Duke said that websites must do more to detect violent extremist content online; she suggested that websites use the same technology used to identify people on passenger lists, the Daily Mail says.

The acting secretary of homeland security also met with British interior minister Amber Rudd to discuss ways to get web giants to do more to combat terrorism at a G7 summit meeting.

Duke said the number of home-grown violent extremists, usually followers of terrorist organisations, is increasing in the U.S. and the government is approaching the situation by “trying to play the away game and that is working against them in their terrorist safe havens and homes.”

“We do have some terrorist groups on the move, you just saw the take-over of Raqqa and so if we can keep them declining and moving they have less time to sit and prepare.”

She added that one of the biggest threats to aviation travel was the free movement of goods and people as well as the laptop.

To the UK, she said, “I think that it is challenging for you because you have the proximities to other countries, the ease of movement from some of the terrorist safe havens is a little easier for you, but we feel the terrorist threat is very high in the United States.”

After recent terror attacks in the West, PM Theresa May called on tech leaders like Google, Twitter and Facebook to do more to combat the extremist material that appears on their website, the Daily Telegraph reports.

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