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Mueller: 'Enemy is far from defeated'

FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday spoke to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee about worldwide threats to the intelligence community.

Following is a transcript of Mueller's remarks.

MUELLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As we enter the second year of the global war on terrorism, the United States and its allies have inflicted a series of significant defeats on al Qaeda and its terrorist networks both here at home and abroad.

The terrorist enemy, however, is far from defeated. Although our country's ultimate victory is not in doubt, we face a long war whose end is difficult to foresee.

Accordingly, prevention of another terrorist attack remains the FBI's top priority. The bureau's efforts to identify and dismantle terrorist networks have yielded successes over the past 17 months. We have charged 197 suspected terrorists with crimes, 99 of whom have been convicted to date.

We have also facilitated the deportation of numerous individuals with suspected links to terrorist groups. Moreover, our efforts damaged terrorist networks and disrupted terrorist-related activities across the country -- in Portland, Buffalo, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and in Florida, to name but a few.

Furthermore, we have successfully disrupted sources of terrorist financing, including freezing $113 million from 62 organizations and conducting 730 investigations, 23 of which have resulted in convictions.

But despite these successes, the nature of the terrorist threat facing our country today is exceptionally complex. International terrorists and their state sponsors have emerged as the primary threat to our security after decades in which the activities of domestic terrorist groups were a more imminent threat.

The al Qaeda terrorist network is clearly the most urgent threat to U.S. interests. The evidence linking al Qaeda to the attacks of September 11 is clear and irrefutable. And our investigation of the events leading up to 9/11 has given rise to important insights into terrorist tactics and trade craft, trade craft which will prove invaluable as we work to prevent the next attack.

There is no question, though, that al Qaeda and other terrorist networks have proven adept at defending their organizations from U.S. and international law enforcement efforts. As these terrorist organizations evolve and change their tactics, we, too, must be prepared to evolve.

Accordingly, the FBI is undergoing substantial changes, including the incorporation of an enhanced intelligence function that will allow us to meet these terrorist threats.

I'd like to briefly outline these changes, but first, Mr. Chairman, I would like to address the most significant threats facing this country today.

We start with the al Qaeda threat. The al Qaeda network will remain for the foreseeable future the most immediate and serious threat facing this country. Al Qaeda is the most lethal of the groups associated with the Sunni and jihad cause, but it does not operate in a vacuum.

Many of the groups committed to international jihad offer al Qaeda varying degrees of support. FBI investigations have revealed Islamic militants in the United States, and we strongly suspect that several hundred of these extremists are linked to al Qaeda.

The focus of the activities centers primarily on fundraising, recruitment and training. Their support structure, however, is sufficiently well developed that one or more groups could be mobilized by al Qaeda to carry out operations in the United States homeland.

Despite the progress the United States has made in disrupting the al Qaeda network overseas and within our own country, the organization maintains the ability and the intent to inflict significant casualties in the United States with little warning.

Our greatest threat is from al Qaeda cells in the United States that we have not yet been able to identify. Finding and rooting out al Qaeda members ... in the United States [who] have had time to establish themselves is the most serious intelligence and law enforcement challenge.

But, in addition, the threat from single individuals sympathetic to or affiliated with al Qaeda, acting without external support or surrounding conspiracies, is increasing. al Qaeda's successful attacks on September 11 suggest the organization could employ similar operational strategies in carrying out any future attack in the United States, including those cell members who avoid drawing attention to themselves and minimize contact with militant Islamic groups in the United States.

They also maintain, as we have found in the past, strict operational and communications security.

We must not assume, however, that al Qaeda will rely only on tried-and-true methods of attack. As attractive as a large-scale attack that produces mass casualties would be for al Qaeda and as important as such an attack is to its credibility amongst its supporters and its sympathizers, target vulnerability and likelihood of success are increasingly important to the weakened organization.

Indeed, the types of recent smaller-scale operations al Qaeda has directed and aided against a wide array of Western targets outside the United States could readily be reproduced within the United States.

I tell you, Mr. Chairman, my greatest concern is that our enemies are trying to acquire dangerous new capabilities with which to harm Americans. Terrorists worldwide have ready access to information on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons via the Internet.

Acquisition of such weapons would be a huge morale boost for those seeking our destruction while engendering widespread fear among Americans and amongst our allies.

Although the most serious terrorist threat is from nonstate actors, we remain vigilant against the potential threat posed by state sponsors of terrorism. Seven countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism -- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Cuba and North Korea -- remain active in the United States and continue to support terrorist groups that have targeted Americans.

As Director Tenet has pointed out, Secretary Powell presented evidence last week that Baghdad has failed to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, willfully attempting to evade and deceive the international community.

Our particular concern is that Saddam Hussein may supply terrorists with biological, chemical or radiological material.

Let me turn, if I could, Mr. Chairman, to some of the changes that we've brought about within the bureau in the last year.

For nearly a century, the FBI has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the world's premier law enforcement agencies, and for decades, the FBI has remained flexible in addressing the threats facing the nation at any given time, whether it be gangsters, civil rights violations, racketeering, organized crime, espionage and, of course, terrorism.

And since September 11, 2001, the men and women of the FBI have recognized the need for change and have embraced it.

I can assure this committee and the American people that, just as the FBI earned its reputation as a world-class law enforcement agency, so is it committed to becoming a world-class intelligence agency. As evidence of that commitment, Mr. Chairman, I would like to spend a moment outlining some of the specific steps we have taken to address the terrorist threats facing the United States today.

To effectively wage this war against terror, we have augmented our counterterrorism resources and are making organizational enhancements to focus our priorities. On top of the resource commitment to counterterrorism we made between 1993 and 2001, we have received additional resources from Congress. We have, as well, shifted internal resources to increase our total staffing levels for counterterrorism by 36 percent. Much of this increase has gone toward augmenting our analytic cadre.

We have implemented a number of initiatives, including creating the College of Analytical Studies, which, in conjunction with the CIA, is training our new intelligence analysts. We also created a corps of reports officers. These officers will be responsible for identifying, extracting and collecting intelligence from FBI investigations and sharing that information throughout the FBI and to other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

I have taken a number of other actions, which we believe will make the FBI a more flexible, more responsive agency in our war against terrorism. To improve our system for threat warnings, we have established a number of specialized counterterrorism units.

These include a Threat Monitoring Unit, which, among other things, works hand-in-hand with its CIA counterpart to produce a daily threat matrix; a 24-hour Counterterrorism Watch to serve as the FBI's focal point for all incoming terrorist threats; two separate units to analyze terrorist communications and special technologies and applications; another section devoted entirely to terrorist-financing operations; a unit to manage document exploitation where the documents come from Afghanistan or Pakistan or elsewhere around the world; and other such units. And to protect U.S. citizens abroad, we have expanded our legal attache and liaison presence around the world to 46 offices.

To strengthen our cooperation with state and local law enforcement, we are introducing counterterrorism training on a national level. We will provide specialized counterterrorism training to 224 agents and training technicians from every field division in the country so that they, in turn, can train an estimated 26,800 federal, state and local law enforcement officers this year in basic counterterrorism techniques.

To further enhance our relationship with state and local agencies, we have expanded the number of joint terrorism task forces from a pre-9/11 number of 35 to 66 today. The joint terrorism task forces partner FBI personnel with hundreds of investigators from various federal, state and local agencies in field offices across the country and are important force multipliers aiding our fight against terrorism within the United States.

The counterterrorism measures I have just described essentially complete the first phase of our intelligence program. We are now beginning the second phase that will focus on expanding and enhancing our ability to collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence. The centerpiece of this effort is the establishment of an executive assistant director for intelligence who will have direct authority and responsibility for the FBI's national intelligence program.

Specifically, the executive assistant director for intelligence will be responsible for ensuring that the FBI has the optimum strategies, structure and policies in place, first and foremost, for our counterterrorism mission. That person will also oversee the intelligence programs for our counterintelligence, criminal and our cyber divisions.

Lastly, in the field, intelligence units will be established in every office and will function under the authority of the executive assistant director for intelligence. If we are to defeat terrorists and their supporters, a wide range of organizations must work together.

I am committed to the closest possible cooperation with the intelligence community and with other government agencies, as well as with state and local agencies. And I should not leave out our counterparts overseas.

I strongly support the president's initiative to establish a terrorist threat integration center that will merge and analyze terrorist-related information collected domestically and abroad.

Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by saying that the nature of the threats facing the United States homeland continues to evolve. My complete statement, which has been submitted for the record, emphasizes that we are not ignoring the serious threat from terrorist organizations other than al Qaeda, from domestic homegrown terrorists and from foreign intelligence services.

To successfully continue to address all of these threats, the FBI is committed to remaining flexible enough to adapt our mission and our resources to stay one step ahead of our enemies.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to make this statement.

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