Terrorist threat may be at most ‘heightened state’ since 9/11, Napolitano says

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a congressional hearing Wednesday, that the terrorist threat to the United States may be at its most “heightened state” since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates are placing increased emphasis on recruiting Americans and other Westerners to carry out attacks.

Napolitano spoke before the House Committee on Homeland Security, whose chairman, Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), is planning hearings on the threat posed by domestic radicalization and a growing incidence of U.S. citizens or legal residents involved in terrorist plots.

While Napolitano addressed the growing threat of homegrown terrorism, Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said al-Qaeda’s leadership, based in Pakistan, is “at one of its weakest points in the past decade.”

White House quietly reaching out to Muslims

The Obama Administration has quietly engaged in a dialogue with American Muslims and Arab-Americans according to the NYT. Following Mr. Obama’s Cairo speech in last June, his administration have engaged American Muslim advocates in policy discussions and, among others, top White House aides have provided them with briefing in regards to the health care reform, foreign policy issues, economic reform, immigration issues and national security. The White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, and Attorney General, Eric Holder are among the people who have privately met with Muslim advocates according to the NYT.

GOP wants Napolitano fired

Congressman Mike Hoffman (R-Colo) joined 10 other Republicans on Capitol Hill to request the removal of Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary on the heels of the Abdulmutallab attack on Christmas Day.

“There should be no tolerance for her lack of leadership,” the letter from the lawmakers read. “…it is imperative that you dismiss her immediately.”

Airport security tightened following attempted attack

Travelers will find an increase in random screenings, canine teams, behavior detection officers, and air marshals on flights, due to what Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano describes as a “continued threat” from al-Qaida.

These measures were amongst an array of plans President Obama announced after an intelligence review last week was conducted to assess how Abdulmutallab slipped through US security cracks.

US Homeland Security Secretary: America is now fighting terrorism on its own soil

Janet Napolitano’s had this to say in assessment of domestic security this week: “These recent arrests should remove any remaining comfort that some might have had that if we fight the terrorist abroad, we won’t have to fight them here,” she said. “If only the world were that simple. The fact is that home-based terrorism is here. We are seeing young Americans who are inspired by al-Qaida and radical ideology.”

Bush Says U.S. Stands With Muslims

The United States has a proud history of standing with Muslims and “mainstream citizens across the broader Middle East,” President Bush said Thursday during a dinner to mark the end of the daily fast during Ramadan. Speaking to about 90 attendees during the White House’s annual iftar dinner marking the occasion, Bush said the United States has supported Muslims seeking liberty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and has stood with Muslims across the world facing hardship. He said violent extremists do not represent Islam. “They believe that by spreading chaos and violence they can frustrate the desire of Muslims to live in freedom and peace. We say to them, you don’t represent Muslims, you do not represent Islam – and you will not succeed,” Bush told the attendees, who included Muslim leaders and ambassadors, as well as first lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.