Sen. Coats returns from worldwide security conference, discusses latest threats to U.S. and Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 16, 2016) – Upon his return from the Munich Security Conference, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said he returned to Indiana this week with a sense of uncertainty from European allies.

The threat of terrorism at home remains present throughout the nation and Hoosier state, Coats said, where homegrown terrorism and the ongoing concern about ISIS sympathizers was a top concern in Munich.

“Hundreds-of-thousands of Syrians killed, millions of Syrians migrating into Europe causing all kinds of disruption,” Coats said in an interview with CBS4. “And these challenges are overwhelming , and they basically said the United States is not there.”

Those implications, Coats said, is leading to a direct threat against the United States, including Indiana.

“I think we have to take this very seriously,” he said. “The director of the FBI< who I’m a close friend with, has publicly said it’s very difficult for them to oversee and manage the level of threats and the number of potential terrorists here.”

The FBI has told CBS4 agents are monitoring Hoosiers authorities believe have shown signs of homegrown, violent extremism.

“The great concern is there are people who are becoming self-radicalized,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indianapolis)  said, who sits on both the CIA and Emerging Threats Subcommittees in the House. “They’re going online. They’re being influenced by hate speech. We have to be monitoring those people.”

On Sunday, the head of the CIA told 60 Minutes ISIS will try planting operatives across the U.S., potentially armed with small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas.

Those broad concerns, Coats said, were underscored in Munich and are being monitored locally.

“The FBI has a major station here in Indianapolis with substations,” he said. “And they will be monitoring that.”

But neither Coats nor Carson would identify how many Hoosiers are being actively monitored in Indiana as potential ISIS sympathizers.

“A lot of that information is classified, so I’m not at liberty to talk about those matters,” Carson said. “But I will say that local, state, federal law enforcement are working cooperatively to keep our Hoosiers safe.”

Coats, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said this will be the main focus of intelligence officials for the foreseeable future.

“We’re in a very challenging, uncertain time here relative to terrorism,” he said. “And I believe there will continue to be efforts at attacks, and you can’t be 100 percent perfect on this.”

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