Top U.S. intelligence official says IS involvement not certain in Ariana Grande concert attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States’ top intelligence official says the U.S. government has not yet verified that the Islamic State group is responsible for the attack in Manchester, England, but called the deadly incident a reminder of how serious the terror threat remains.

“This threat is real, it’s not going away, and it needs significant attention,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Coats said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

Coats appeared before the panel following a suicide attack at an Ariana Grande show in England that left 22 people dead and dozens more wounded. The Islamic State claimed it was behind the attack. The Islamic State group said one of its members planted bombs in crowds at the concert. The group warned in a statement posted on social media that more attacks are to come.

Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, told the panel that the extremist group frequently claims responsibility for violent attacks. He said he had just returned from a trip to London where he met with his counterparts in the British intelligence community. Coats said their gravest concern that the potential for attacks carried out by “inspired or homegrown” extremists, which are much more difficult to detect and prevent.

His testimony comes amid ongoing investigations into allegations that Russia tried to interfere in last year’s election. Coats refused to comment on a news report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee’s chairman, asked Coats about The Washington Post report Monday that said Trump asked Coats and Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to push back against an FBI investigation that’s been examining potential coordination between Moscow and the presidential campaign.

Coats did not deny the report but said he didn’t want to characterize or comment any private conversations with the president. Coats also said he had no documents about such a call. He was asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., if he had such material that could be provided to Robert Mueller, the special counsel named by the Justice Department to oversee the investigation.