The key juncture of US fight against terrorism

With ISIS and Al-Qaida weakened, US faces an evolving anti-terror mission.


Islamic terrorists
Islamic terrorists
Flash 90

At the main operations room inside the National Counterterrorism Center, the flow of incoming data never stops. Analysts from across the government sit in front of their blinking computers, all facing huge TV screens tuned to news channels.

"On a daily basis, 10,000 reports come across our ops center and eyes are put on every one of those," said Russ Travers, deputy director of the center, who has been here, on and off, since it was established 16 years ago.

"There are in the neighborhood of 16,000 names within those pieces of information. We have to process all of that," he added.

The U.S. fight against terrorism is at a key juncture. More than 17 years after the 2001 attacks by al-Qaida, that group is no longer the force it was. And the Islamic State has lost its core territory.

Despite these U.S. successes, a host of evolving threats remain. So what should the U.S. effort look like going forward?

As someone who began his intelligence career in the Army 40 years ago, Travers is instinctively cautious.

"After 9/11, we talked about this being a generational struggle. I still very much believe that's the case," he said.

Over this past generation, the U.S. has sent many troops abroad and built a massive infrastructure at home to combat terrorism. Some are now calling for a reassessment, including President Trump, who says it is time to bring troops home from Afghanistan and Syria.