GREENSBORO, N.C. — The chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Intelligence Committee and North Carolina Senator Richard Burr praised the work done by the F.B.I. this summer in thwarting terrorist plots.
“They made 17 arrests around the country,” said Burr. “Individuals they knew at least had the intent to carry out an attack whether that was on the Fourth of July or sometime around the Fourth really didn’t matter.”
Burr added that federal law enforcement investigators knew of more than 50 people they needed to keep a close eye on through the Independence Day holiday.
“In 15 years on the Intelligence Committee in the House and Senate I’ve never had as many threat threads as we had going into the Fourth of July,” said Burr.
Justin Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, was one of those arrested accused of supporting ISIS. A federal judge ruled Thursday that there’s enough evidence to move forward with a criminal trial.
It’s been reported that Sullivan turned in by his father, but Burr said F.B.I. investigators were fully aware of Sullivan’s alleged activities. The senator said Sullivan was arrested at the right time.
“That was an individual that had planned to buy an AR-15 the next morning,” said Burr.
According to Burr, the greatest threat moving forward is the use of encrypted websites by ISIS that allows them to talk with recruits.
“It means we get less information,” said Burr. “We’ll be lucky if we know the individual but have no content in terms of the instructions that have been given to them so we have a very challenging road ahead.”
Burr said it won’t be long before the F.B.I. is asking for more help in cracking into those encrypted websites.
“It’s going to require Congress and the American people to have a national debate on whether we increase the amount of tools we allow law enforcement to use,” said Burr.