The killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was a major topic a congressional hearing Wednesday about the government’s ongoing fight against terrorism, both homegrown and abroad.
Kevin Perkins, FBI’s associate deputy director, said the Bureau is leading the investigation and has a “significant” number of agents and analysts assigned to the task. Officials are conducting interviews, gathering evidence and working with partners to determine exactly what took place in Benghazi, Libya, earlier this month.
Perkins spoke Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, discussing the Bureau’s ongoing battle against terrorist threats. Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said officials are working to determine who was responsible for Stevens’ death, citing the possibility the people are associated with militant Libyan groups or Al Qaeda.
“The picture that is emerging is one that a number of different individuals were involved and it’s not necessarily an either/or proposition,” he told the committee Wednesday morning.
Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the consulate. Three other Americans were wounded.
Perkins said the FBI monitors international terrorist threats daily, and has recently integrated its intelligence analysts into operations to better sync their defenses. Beyond terrorist threats outside American borders, homegrown terrorism perpetrated by lone actors remains an issue, he said. Perkins cited to the shooting attack on a Sikh Temple in suburban Wisconsin as an example of these attacks, in which the FBI has seen a surge.
“Lone offenders pose a significant concern in that they stand on the periphery,” he said.
Six people were killed and another three were injured in the shooting at the suburban Milwaukee temple. The FBI said the shooter, who died in the ensuing shootout with police, had ties to white supremacist groups.
Also today, the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service hosted a preview of its Sikh cultural competency training. Deputy Attorney General James Cole and acting Associate Attorney General Tony West spoke at the event, saying they will work with the FBI to determine whether the hate crimes statute should be expanded to include other categories under religion-based hate crimes.