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Top official says US not yet verified claim Manchester

WASHINGTON – The United States’ top intelligence official says the U.S. government has not yet confirmed that the Islamic State, the group is responsible for the attack in Manchester, England, but called the deadly incident is a stark reminder of how severe the terrorist threat remains.

“So it was again reminds us that this threat is real, it is not the way to go, and has quite a bit of attention to do everything we can to protect our people against this kind of attack,” said Director of National intelligence, Layers said during testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Layers said that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

“The first reports we have received are that this is indeed a suicide attack,” Coats said. “Or were there others involved in that part of the assessment.”

Layers appeared before the panel after a suicide attack on a Ariana Grande show in England that left 22 dead and dozens wounded. The Islamic State claimed it was behind the attack. The Islamic State group, according to one of the members of the planted bombs in the audience at the concert. The group warned in a statement on social media that there are more attacks to come.

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

“I could say that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Manchester,” Coats said. “Even though they claim that the responsibility for almost every attack. We have not verified the connection.”

Two U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the British authorities have identified the suspect as Salman Abedi. A European security official told the AP he was british. All three spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Layers a testimony in the midst of ongoing investigations into allegations that Russia tried to interfere in the final year of the election. Coats declined to comment on a news report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly disavow a collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee, the chairman, asked Layers about The Washington Post report Monday that said Trump asked Jackets and Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to push back against an FBI research is the investigation of possible coordination between Moscow and the presidential campaign.

Jackets did not deny the report, but said that he does not want to characterize or comment on a private conversation with the president. “I’ve always believed that, given the nature of my position and the information that we share, is not appropriate for me to comment in public on one of those,” he said.

Coats also said he had no documents about such a call. He was asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-n.y., as he had so much material that can be given to Robert Mueller, the special board appointed by the Ministry of Justice to oversee the investigation.

Jackets also refused to say whether he had discussed Trump’s alleged request with Rogers. He paused for a few seconds after Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked him if he had spoken to Rogers.

“Have you talked about this issue with Adm. Rogers?” asked Blumenthal. Layers interrupted for a few seconds before he said, “that is something that I would like to keep, that is the question at this point in time.”

Blumenthal said that he would accept all of Coats’ response that the “the implied answer is, ‘Yes you have.'” Blumenthal said that he would like to know, perhaps at a different time, what the content of that conversation was.

Asked by McCain, Coats said that the leaks of national security information can be “devastating” and put the lives of American spies and military personnel at risk.

“The release of information, not only undermines confidence in our allies about our ability to secure the information that we share with them endanger sources and methods which are invaluable for our ability to find out what is going on and what the threats are,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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Reach Richard Lardner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rplardner

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