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FBI Chief Cites 'Substantial Headway' on Terrorism

FBI Director Robert Mueller
Dianna Douglas, NPR News /
/
FBI Director Robert Mueller

The threat of a terrorist attack against the United States is "still serious, but we have made substantial headway since Sept. 11th," FBI Director Robert Mueller says. Al Qaeda has been disrupted but continues to operate in "pockets" around the world, he tells NPR's Juan Williams in a Morning Edition interview.

The FBI has had to "change and reshape itself" previously, as it did in battling organized crime, Mueller says. But the agency's role has changed dramatically in the two years since the Sept. 11 attacks, with its top goal shifted to preventing another attack. "The change is not completed, but we're well on our way," Mueller says.

The FBI has enhanced its relationships with the CIA, the Pentagon, and with overseas agencies as well as with local and state law enforcement agencies in the United States, he says.

Al Qaeda's leaders are "scattered around the globe," while in the United States, cells of the group have been identified and disrupted, Mueller says.

"We have made substantial strides, but nonetheless al Qaeda is still out there in pockets around the world that still seek to kill Americans, whether it be overseas or here in the United States," he says.

With the role the FBI has played in fighting terrorism -- it has been called in to investigate attacks in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Africa -- Mueller sees an increased international role for the Bureau. "I see our future being an international law enforcement agency as well as a law enforcement intelligence agency."

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