November 05, 2019

Senator Hassan Addresses Foreign & Domestic Terrorist Threats, Ransomware Attacks at Homeland Security Committee Hearing

To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today questioned several of the nation’s top security officials about the rising threats of ISIS affiliates, growing domestic terrorism threats, and cybersecurity during the Senate Homeland Security Committee annual Threats to the Homeland hearing. Senator Hassan and other members of the Committee questioned FBI Director Chris Wray, Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis David Glawe, and National Counterterrorism Center Acting Director Russell Travers.

Senator Hassan opened her questioning by discussing the rising threat of ISIS affiliates, stating, “Last month I traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan and heard firsthand the concerns of our military and embassy personnel about the growing and very real threat of ISIS-K, the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan. I heard clearly that ISIS-K threatens not only U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but also has designs on striking the U.S. homeland.”

In response to her question, Acting Director Travers reinforced the importance of targeting ISIS-K: “Of all of the branches and networks of ISIS, ISIS-K is certainly one of those of most concern…We certainly share the concerns of both the U.S. military and embassy.”

Senator Hassan also thanked FBI Director Wray for the work of his team in New Hampshire to support houses of worship facing domestic terrorist threats, discussing an event the Senator held in Manchester, NH with the FBI, state and local law enforcement, and faith leaders. Senator Hassan asked Director Wray and Acting Director Travers about the heightened importance of sharing foreign and domestic terrorist threats alike with relevant partners to help mitigate attacks, asking what the “U.S. government need[s] to do amid this rising threat to ensure that intelligence isn’t missed and that it gets to the people who need to know it.” Both Director Wray and Acting Director Travers discussed their agencies’ efforts to analyze global terrorist connections, including between white supremacists, and in turn ensure that the information is disseminated.  

In addition, Senator Hassan raised cybersecurity threats with Director Wray. “As to ransomware, we are seeing the impact of attacks across the country, including an attack in my home state of New Hampshire,” said Senator Hassan. “Threat actors target every aspect of our communities from health care providers, to our small businesses, and even to state and local governments themselves as they did in New Hampshire.”

In response to Senator Hassan’s question about federal government efforts to address ransomware attacks, Director Wray discussed the shift to targeted ransomware attacks on municipalities and the FBI’s work to help victims get their systems back online without paying a ransom.

As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senator Hassan is focused on working across the aisle to keep Granite Staters and all Americans safe, secure, and free. Tomorrow, the Homeland Security Committee is set to vote on Senator Hassan’s bipartisan REPORT Act, which requires federal agencies to report to Congress after a terrorist attack with information about exactly what happened and recommendations to prevent future attacks. Last year, the President signed into law Senator Hassan’s bipartisan DHS Data Framework Act to help ensure that Department of Homeland Security analysts can more efficiently identify terrorist threats. Senator Hassan has also focused on bipartisan oversight over the Administration’s handling of the release of convicted terrorist offenders once they complete their sentences. In addition, Senator Hassan recently called on the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review how the federal government is assisting state and local governments in addressing ransomware threats.