WASHINGTON — Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, is resigning after three years, a time during which the threat from Al Qaeda shifted from its headquarters in Pakistan to its affiliates in places like Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“Most Americans may not know Matt Olsen’s name, but every American is safer because of his service,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
A spokesman for the counterterrorism center echoed comments from Mr. Olsen’s friends and colleagues, who said his decision to step down “was a personal one for him and his family.” He has not set a date to leave the job, which he assumed in August 2011, but he is expected to depart in the next few months, after a successor is selected, the spokesman said.
Mr. Olsen, 52, is a former general counsel for the National Security Agency with extensive experience in intelligence matters, and after a 24-year career in government, he has told friends and colleagues that he would like to take a job outside it.
The National Counterterrorism Center, the nation’s terrorism information clearinghouse, was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The agency is charged with analyzing and integrating information gathered from the nation’s intelligence agencies and providing assessments to the president and other senior policy makers.
Mr. Olsen has been a leader in warning about the threat posed by radicalized young Muslims with Western passports who have traveled to Syria to fight the government of Bashar al-Assad. “As Al Qaeda morphed after the death of Bin Laden, Matt kept the focus on the new environment,” said Michael E. Leiter, Mr. Olsen’s predecessor.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/10/world/middleeast/Matthew-G-Olsen-to-Leave-the-National-Counterterrorism-Center.html