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Cyber Terrorism And Domestic Extremism Among Greatest Terror Threats, U.S. Attorney Says

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
Soo Song, head of national security and anti-terrorism for the Western District of Pennsylvania, addresses the crowd at the first Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Conference on Wednesday, October 13, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said Tuesday that some of the most urgent terror threats facing the county and region include violent domestic groups, such as white supremacists , and "homegrown violent extremists" – individuals who are radicalized by terrorist groups, often through the internet.

"It is a rapidly expanding and changing threat landscape," Brady told more than 400 public safety officials gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday for western Pennsylvania's first Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Conference. "We're seeing a radical increase in the complexity of threats, we're seeing an evolution in the volume and the speed and agility of these threats."

The day-long event explored public safety in relation to mass gatherings and school shootings, as well as cybersecurity topics such as protecting the country's power grid.

According to Gregory Nelsen, assistant special agent in charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the FBI is currently investigating about 5,000 terrorism cases across the world.

"About 1,000 of those are homegrown violent extremism cases, and they touch all 50 states," Nelsen said.

But Brady said he believes the most pressing security threat at the moment is cyber terrorism, a big change from when he entered the Department of Justice in the early 2000s, when he said the biggest concern was organized terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. Cyber terrorism is an umbrella term for activity that includes cybercrime syndicates, dark web activity and "hacktivists" – individuals who promote a political agenda through hacking.

What's at stake and candidate profiles for statewide races and competitive primaries in Allegheny County.