Elaine Duke, Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Homeland Security, held a press conference and told reporters that jihadists staging smaller lone-wolf style attacks to raise money while they worked on planning a larger explosion that might equal the mass-casualties seen during the 9/11 attacks.
The plot, Duke hinted, involved using civilian airlines. The small knife attacks and vehicle attacks are more to keep their message present in the news.
“The terrorist organizations, 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.
“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.”
“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.”
“‘The laptop is one of the many aviation threats, we will never be comfortable and we will always be evolving.”
“What we believe is that because of the movement of goods and people, we have to raise the baseline worldwide, we can’t only consider our borders,” Mrs Duke added. “We think the level of terrorist threat against the United States too is extremely high.”
“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.”
So how is the United States preparing for this new threat? “We have worked on some strong measures that we can’t talk about,” Duke said. “We are 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.”
“Terrorists are strong, they are adaptable and the terrorist threat is the highest it has been since pre-9/11. We have got to have every tool that’s possible.”