Why Al Qaeda poses a greater direct threat to the U.S. than ISIS

On April 29, 2015, I testified before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the House Committee on Homeland Security on the threat Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and each group’s affiliate organizations currently pose to the United States. I argued that Al Qaeda and its affiliates remain a threat to the U.S. homeland, while the Islamic State’s danger is more to the stability of the Middle East and U.S. interests overseas. Much of their rivalry involves a competition for affiliates, with both trying to spread their model and in Al Qaeda’s case to ensure its operational relevance. For now the Islamic State’s focus is primarily on Iraq and Syria and to a lesser degree on other states in the Muslim world, particularly Libya. In the United States and in Europe it may inspire “lone wolves,” but it is not directing its resources to attack in these areas, and security services are prepared for the threat. Al Qaeda is weaker and less dynamic than the Islamic State, but the former remains more focused on attacking the United States and its Western allies.

Watch the testimony:

Read my prepared testimony in full