The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee told Fox News that the next frontier for the Islamic State may be cyber-attacks on U.S. infrastructure -- and it would be naive to presume the terror group is not developing that capability.
"Everything that revolves around this terrorist organization is done via technology, via the Internet," Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said, pointing to how ISIS has exploited the Internet to recruit in a way no other group has.
"To believe they have that type of talent to explode a terrorist organization into the threat that it is today, and that they wouldn't have the capabilities -- we know the intent is there, but we have to assume capabilities are there to target the U.S. infrastructure, companies and government."
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday voted 14-1 to advance a priority bill that Burr says is designed to mitigate the damage from a cyber-attack by creating avenues for more data-sharing. Critics say the bill would further expand the government's reach into the private lives of Americans.
The chairman's assessment comes as ISIS, in a new 28-minute audio tape, accepted the pledge of "Bayat," or allegiance, from the West African terrorist group Boko Haram.
The Nigerian president has now said in an interview with Voice of America that members of the terror group, whose name means "western education is sin," have traveled to ISIS camps for training. A similar pattern has played out in Libya; Fox News was first to report that more than a dozen ISIS members from Iraq and Syria have relocated there for recruitment and training, and the U.S. had no targeting authority to take out the operatives.
A counterterrorism source who has reviewed the new audio tape said the decision to use audio and not video is more evidence the group is taking significant security steps to conceal the location of leadership. The speaker on the tape -- Abu Mohammed al-Adnani -- is part of the ISIS terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 's inner circle.
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.