The Police Chief - November 2010 - (Page 24)
ThE U.S. TErrorIST WaTch LIST
By Trent Duffy, Public Affairs, FBI Terrorist Screening Center, Washington, D.C.
It’s 3:00 a.m. on a desolate state route in the middle of nowhere, and an officer has made what seems like a routine traffic stop for speeding. Three persons sit in the dark vehicle ahead. The officer runs the tag numbers, and, all of a sudden, everything about this traffic stop changes. The check comes back with a special message from the FBI Terrorist Screening Center (TSC): “Warning—approach with caution.” At least one of the individuals is of investigative interest to law enforcement regarding association with terrorism. The officer is able to receive this warning today because of the threads in the criminal justice net that come together through the TSC.
very week, according to data from the TSC, hundreds of known or suspected terrorists meet face-to-face with state, local, and tribal law enforcement in the United States under different circumstances. For many local officers, the contacts are during traffic stops; at other times, the contacts involve petty larceny and misdemeanors, or even incidents of suspicious terrorist activities. The attempted Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Detroitbound jet1 and the attempted car bombing in Times Square in New York City2 are reminders that terrorists still want to inflict great harm on people in the United States, as well as in other countries.
9/11 Hijacker Mohammed Atta was stopped by local law enforcement before the attacks.
Image courtesy of the FBI Terrorist Screening Center.
One deep frustration regarding the 9/11 attacks was that three of the hijackers—Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah, and Hani Hanjour—were stopped by state or local law enforcement for routine traffic violations in the days leading up to the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. However, in 2001, there was no central system in place that could identify them as having an association with terrorism.
Further, as this article is being prepared for publication in early October 2010, a homeland security bulletin has been issued to state and local law enforcement agencies advising them that the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel alert for Americans in Europe, based on intelligence of the potential for attacks by al-Qaeda and other groups in Europe. The travel alert, issued Sunday, October 3, by the State Department, warns of possible acts of terrorism by al-Qaeda and other organizations, particularly on public transportation and at tourist attractions. On Monday, October 4, Japan and Sweden issued similar advisories. Britain has warned that France and Germany are dealing with a “high threat of terrorism.”3
Local-State-Federal Information Sharing and Integration
That has all changed. Today, state and local law enforcement have a willing partner to help improve officer safety, strengthen national security, and expand U.S. counterterrorism efforts: the FBI Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).
24 THE POLICE CHIEF/NOVEMBER 2010
The terrorist acts of 9/11 have brought about a paradigm shift in the local-state-federal partnership, as witnessed by Captain Lenmuel S. Terry, a 34-year veteran of the Virginia State Police (VSP). “At one point, there were concerns about the flow of information, but the wall that existed years ago does not exist today,” he said. “Technology has come a long way in helping to dismantle that wall.”4 The commonwealth of Virginia is a good example of how the flow of information has improved. Virginia, home to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, is a high-encounter state for terrorism for several reasons: proximity to the nation’s capital; heavy military and intelligence presence throughout the state; and the well-traveled I-95 corridor. Because of this, Virginia’s law enforce- Lenmuel S. Terry ment community has been at the forefront of the collaborative effort in homeland security and counterterrorism.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Police Chief - November 2010
The Police Chief - November 2010
President’s Message: The Year Ahead
Legislative Alert: Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Sustain Federal Government
IACP Foundation: Law Enforcement Leaders Learn, with a Corporate Twist
Chief’s Counsel: Legal Training and Concerns for Conducted Energy Weapons
Advances & Applications
The Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute: A Bellwether for Leadership Training in Florida
Training for Face-to-Face Encounters
Beyond Survival toward Officer Wellness (BeSTOW): Targeting Law Enforcement Training
Transforming a Police Agency by Connecting Training, Performance, and Assessment to Promotion
The Field Training Experience: Perspectives of Field Training Officers and Trainees
Tips for Training with a Firearms Simulator
Survey: The Status of Field Training
Nine-Week Army Program Provides Civilian Police Force Training
Educational Programs for Fusion Center Directors
Training and Tools to Serve the Line Officer
Index to Advertisers
Highway Safety Initiatives
The Police Chief - November 2010