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Published On: Fri, Sep 26th, 2014

FBI, Pentagon officials unclear on Khorasan threat, won’t define ‘imminent’

The FBI and the Pentagon said on Thursday that they did not know exactly how close the Khorasan group, an al Qaeda related group of militants targeted by U.S. drone strikes in Syria, was to an attack on the U.S. or other regions.

While the Obama administration had previously described the threat as “imminent,” FBI director James Comey told reporters “I don’t know exactly what the word means,” when pressed on defining the threat further.

President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room.  2/16/09. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room. 2/16/09. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

“In this business, given the nature of the people involved, and what we could see, we assumed and acted as if [the attack would come] tomorrow,” he added.

“It’s hard to say whether that’s tomorrow, three weeks from now or three months from now, but it’s the kind of threat you have to operate under the assumption that it is tomorrow.”

“We don’t have complete visibility,” Comey said of Syria, but added that “what I could see concerned me very much that they were working toward an attack.”

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. did not know how close the group was to striking.

“I don’t know that we, you know, can pin that down to a day or month or week or six months. It doesn’t matter,” Kirby said.

“I mean, so we can have this debate about, you know, whether it was valid to hit them or not or whether it was too soon or too late,” Kirby later added. “We hit them. And I don’t think, you know, we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes.”

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said on Tuesday that the attack was “imminent.” Asked how imminent, he said he would not get into “specific details of plotting.”

There have been no ties between Khorasan group and ISIS, but both are Sunni militants with a likeminded desire to pursue a Sharia Law form of governance and an Islamic caliphate.

Full trancript of Kirby’s remark:

Q: And on — on that threat, can you offer any more clarity — and I apologize if I’m just not picking up on this — but was it– was the imminent threat that they posed? Was it that they had gained a capability that they could use anywhere? Or was there a specific threat at a target in Europe or against U.S. homeland that we saw and then prevented?
REAR ADM. KIRBY: I’m going to need to be careful here about the depth of information I get into from an intelligence perspective. What I’ll tell you is, they were in the advanced stages, near the end stages of planning an attack on a Western target. We don’t know whether it was in Europe or the U.S. homeland, but we know that they were getting close. And I don’t want to talk about how exactly we know that or the — or the manner in which they planned to conduct this attack, but we had enough information that led to a high degree of confidence that this was the right time to get them.
And, you know, and the next question will be, well, how long — how — when — I know where you’re going with this. You know, how — how much future in the future was this attack going to happen? And I don’t know that we, you know, can pin that down to a day or month or week or six months. It doesn’t matter.
Far better to be the left of a boom than to the right of it. And that’s what we’re trying to do, is get to the left of any boom to prevent the planning from going any further, and certainly to prevent them getting into an execution phase, which we don’t believe they were in yet, and that’s where you want to be.
I mean, so we can have this debate about, you know, whether it was valid to hit them or not or whether it was too soon or too late. We hit them. And I don’t think, you know, we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes. And so they got hit, and we’ll assess the strike, and we’ll see where we go from there.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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