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Comey: Feds have roughly 900 domestic probes about Islamic State operatives

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/23/2015 Kevin Johnson
Former FBI Director James B. Comey. Don Ryan/AP © Don Ryan/AP Former FBI Director James B. Comey. Don Ryan/AP

WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey said Friday that federal authorities have an estimated 900 active investigations pending against suspected Islamic State-inspired operatives across the country.

In a speech to intelligence officials, Comey said that the number of inquiries is "slowly climbing" as ISIL has sought to expand their reach into the U.S., targeting largely young, disaffected potential operatives through a provocative social media campaign.

Comey has previously discussed the national scope of U.S.-based ISIL inquiries. But rarely has there been a public reference to a number of such investigations.

Because the pace of the investigations has varied in the last several months, Comey said it was still unclear whether the bureau had the necessary resources to meet the demand. Comey referred to a particularly taxing period in mid-summer when federal authorities expressed public concern about the prospect of an attack around the July Fourth holiday.

"If that becomes the new normal ... That would be hard to keep up," the director said, though he said the pace has eased somewhat recently.

Since July 1, the director said, investigators have been tracking a decline in numbers of Americans seeking to travel to Syria to join forces with ISIL. But it is unclear how that drop-off may be affecting the domestic threat.

"Something has happened that is flattening the curve (the number of travelers)," he said.



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