DHS: ‘We Are Watching a Number of Very, Very Sophisticated, Advanced Threats Right Now’

By Susan Jones | May 26, 2017 | 7:13am EDT
Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly testifies before a Senate subcommittee about his department’s budget request for 2018 and other security matters. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

(CNSNews.com) - On March 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced that personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone would have to be placed in checked baggage at ten of the 250 overseas airports that serve as last points of departure to the United States.

On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly said the so-called laptop ban “possibly” could be expanded to other overseas airports.

“What I have learned in the last 120 days…is this relentless attempt on the part of terrorists to blow up airplanes in flight: ideally, big airplanes with a lot of people; ideally, a U.S. carrier; ideally on the way to the United States.

"We are watching, can’t get into it in this group -- but we are watching a number of very, very sophisticated, advanced threats right now.”

Kelly said he obviously wouldn’t have put ten airports on the list in March if the threat weren’t real. “But as we look at the threat and how it’s morphed, we are looking at perhaps other ways to reinforce security procedures at every airport in the world. So it’s possible that it would expand.”

Kelly also said current airport screening technology has “just about” reached its limit, and his department is “looking at advancing that.”

Asked to explain the 21 percent reduction in research and development in President Trump’s proposed FY ’18 budget, Kelly said the U.S. is working with its international partners and the airlines to share the cost of R&D aimed at improving screening technology.

“But ultimately we have to spend what we need to spend to find the technology to protect air travelers.”

Earlier in the hearing, Kelly said he worries about the threat of homegrown terrorism all time, especially as the U.S. military makes progress in crushing ISIS’ self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria:

“We’re doing very, very good, the Department of Defense, the coalition, doing very good overseas to reduce this threat.

“But the end result of reducing that threat is that the terrorists that are fighting in the caliphate -- you know, Syria and Iraq -- they’re going home. They’re not going home to live normal lives. In fact, they’re being encouraged to not be killed in the caliphate fight. Go back to where you came from and just create Manchester-type fights.”

Kelly said these are people, born in Europe, who are traveling on legal passports, but their countries don’t know they’ve been in the fight.

“And now they’re hardened warriors that will do things like Manchester, so as horrible as Manchester was, my expectation is we’re going to see a lot more of that kind of attack.”

Kelly told "Fox & Friends" on Friday that if Fox host Steve Doocy "knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning." Kelly said the terror threat is "everywhere," "constant," and "nonstop."

ISIS reportedly issued a call for attacks on Western target to mark the start of Ramadan tomorrow.

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