TSA: Al-Qaeda and Affiliates ‘Continue To Pose A Serious Threat’ to U.S.

By Edwin Mora | June 2, 2011 | 6:11 PM EDT

Washington (CNSNews.com) -- Despite the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden, the assistant administrator for intelligence at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told lawmakers this week that al-Qaeda and its affiliates continue to seriously threaten the United States.

Testifying before the House Homeland Security Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee on Wednesday, TSA intelligence official Daniel Johnson warned that “al-Qaeda and its affiliates may seek to accelerate existing plots, prove their mettle and or legitimize their causes.”

“In my role as the head of the Intel for TSA, I’m often asked what keeps me up at night – the answer is the global threats with a regional focus coming primarily from al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups who continue to pose a serious threat to transportation security,” Johnson said. “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, continues to threaten U.S. interest abroad and in the homeland. In particular, the group is fixated on aviation as a means to inspire fear and economically cripple the United States and Western interests.”

A girl walks past a wall with graffiti about the al-Qaida network in a Muslim area of the northern city of Kano, Nigeria. (AP File Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

“In light of the successful Osama bin-Laden roll up,” he said, “we continue to track and seize material being exploited from his compound in [Pakistan’s] Abbottabad.”

Johnson noted that AQAP has used Inspire, an English-language magazine that it reportedly owns, to reference “[Umar Farouk] Abdulmutallab’s heroism and sacrifice as the Christmas Day Bomber, and even featured an article of how to make a bomb in the kitchen.”

The TSA is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the U.S. National Terrorism Center, “Yemen-based al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula since 2009 has orchestrated high-profile attacks and expanded its activities outside of Yemen, most notably by sending Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate an explosive device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight on 25 December 2009 -- to engage in the first US homeland attack by an al-Qa‘ida affiliate since 
11 September 2001.”

“Dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen and radical ideologue Anwar al-Aulaqi is a known leader of AQAP,” it added. “Al-Aulaqi has been named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States Government.”

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in Pakistan by U.S. forces on May 2.