Homeland Security secretary: 'Lone wolf' threat different than 9/11

Story highlights

  • Jeh Johnson says the nation is safer from 9/11 style attacks
  • Terrorist-inspired 'lone wolf' attacks are more of a threat now than 15 years ago, he said

Washington (CNN)Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday the threat of terrorist-inspired "lone wolf" attacks is "the thing that keeps me up at night" 15 years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"It's a new environment. It's a new phenomenon," Johnson told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," when Tapper asked if the United States is safer now than it was then.
    "So the answer to your question is really a mixed one," Johnson said. "We're better now at detecting the 9/11-style attacks, but it's more challenging with this new environment that we're in."
    Johnson said he could see the towers collapse from his Manhattan office window on 9/11, when he was an attorney in private practice. He said the biggest difference in terms of security threats since then is that terror groups can now "literally into our homeland through the internet with social media to recruit and inspire people here."
    "We're safer when it comes to the 9/11 style attacks. Our government has become pretty good at detecting overseas plots against the homeland. Our intelligence community, our law enforcement community, are pretty good at connecting those types of dots," Johnson said. "But we've got this new threat, which makes it harder."