Top 3 threats to the United States: the good and bad news

The annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community is out this week, a widely-anticipated report compiled by the nation’s intelligence agencies. Here is the good and bad news about the top three threats facing the United States, according to an unclassified version of the report.

2. Terrorism

A still image from 2011 video footage shows Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan-born top Al Qaeda leader who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan last year.

The bad news:

Attacks on US soil remain an often-expressed goal of Africa-based terrorist groups including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

More disturbingly, such attacks are also the aim of what the threat assessment refers to as homegrown violent extremists, or HVE’s. These are US citizens inspired by Al Qaeda, who show “continued interest in improvised explosive devices” and US military targets.

The good news:

Despite the threat of homegrown terrorists, intelligence officials estimate that they “will continue to be involved in fewer than 10 domestic plots per year.”

The original Al Qaeda once headed by Osama bin Laden suffered a number of senior personnel deaths in 2012, according to the assessment – many courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret drone strike program – “amplifying [Al Qaeda’s] losses and setbacks since 2008.”

As a result, US intelligence operatives “have degraded core Al Qaeda to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West.”

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