WASHINGTON — The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) told reporters on Thursday that he believes that there may be potentially thousands of ISIS sympathizers present nationwide.
“I know there are other Elton Simpsons out there,” James Comey stated, referring to one of the Islamic gunmen who sought to attack the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Texas on Sunday.
However, he said that the government has a “very hard task” of locating jihadists in the nation, as ISIS tactics to recruit followers has changed.
“The haystack is the entire country,” Comey said. “We are looking for the needles, but increasingly the needles are unavailable to us. … This is the ‘going dark’ problem in living color. There are Elton Simpsons out there that I have not found and I cannot see.”
He said that as recent as just a couple of years ago, jihadist wannabees would seek out online forums to communicate, but “that has changed dramatically, especially with [ISIS] and their use of social media.” Comey noted that even on the phones of Americans and others ISIS is urging sympathizers “to travel to the so-called caliphate to fight” but also state, “If you can’t travel, kill where you are,”
“It’s almost as if there is a devil sitting on the shoulder saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill, kill’ all day long,” he said. “[They are] recruiting and tasking at the same time. … In a way, the old paradigm between ‘inspired’ and ‘directed’ breaks down here.”
Comey outlined that ISIS is even directing those it communicates with to encrypted means of connecting, so that the government cannot read it.
“[We see] a connection made, and then it disappears,” he stated.
As previously reported, Comey remarked earlier this year that he believes ISIS sympathizers are present nationwide.
“We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states,” he told meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). “This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see…”
Comey explained that Islamic terror groups believe that they are carrying out their acts as part of the end times.
“ISIL in particular is putting out a siren song with their slick propaganda through social media that goes like this: ‘Troubled soul, come to the caliphate. You will live a life of glory. These are the apocalyptic end times. You will find a life of meaning here fighting for our so-called caliphate. And if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are,” he outlined. “That is a message that goes out to troubled souls everywhere.”