FBI Chief: al-Qaida Affiliate Might Be Planning Attack on U.S. or Allies Soon

Official says U.S. is better prepared to combat Islamist group; says a dozen Americans are fighting with terrorists in Syria.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.Credit: AP

A group tied to Al-Qaida may be working toward executing an attack on the U.S. or its allies soon, the top U.S. police official said in an interview Sunday.

James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the CBS program "60 Minutes" that the group is an al-Qaida affiliate called Khorasan.

"I can't sit here and tell you whether [their] plan is tomorrow or three weeks or three months from now," he told correspondent Scott Pelley. "Given our visibility we know they're serious people, bent on destruction. And so we have to act as if it's coming tomorrow."

Comey said that the U.S. is better prepared to combat al-Qaida than it was earlier on.

"We are better organized as an intelligence community," he said. "We're better organized and equipped at the border. We have relationships with our foreign partners. All of which make us better able to see dots and connect dots. The transformation since before 9/11 is striking."

Comey said that a dozen Americans are fighting in Syria on the terrorists' side and that the FBI is confident it knows their identities. If one of them wants to return to the U.S., "we will track them very carefully," the FBI chief said.

And Comey said a variety of cybercriminals "are trying to break into our systems." He said that China is the top national source of cybercriminals, He called the Chinese hackers "extremely aggressive."

"They can copy or steal to learn about how a company might approach negotiations with a Chinese company, all manner of things," Comey said.

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