In new comments to ABC News, FBI Director James Comey warned that there are “thousands” of online followers of ISIS inside of the United States, and that the bureau is struggling to track their interactions beyond social media.
“We see a connection made, and then it disappears,” Comey said, adding that encrypted communications were in many cases impossible for them to break even with a court order.
Comey said this amounted to a shift in the process of online radicalization, as where at one point would-be recruits had to go to considerable lengths to find anything, they now make contact on Twitter or Facebook, and are then steered to more secure forms of communication.
The comments were made in the context of Garland shooter Elton Simpson, though officials have conceded they don’t really think he was working with ISIS, but was at most “inspired” by them.
Comey said Simpson was one of thousands of Americans consuming the “digital poison” from social media, saying it was like having a devil on their shoulders telling them to kill people all the time.