Preventing Another 9/11: What the FBI is Doing
It was 14 years ago today that we suffered through the worst terrorist attacks on American soil in our nation’s history. The country and the world were stunned and outraged. The FBI learned valuable lessons and has taken great strides to ensure another attack like 9/11 never happens again.
In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, a special agent attached to the FBI’s Newark office talked at length about those important lessons and crucial steps.
“Since 9/11, the FBI has doubled the number of agents who work in counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence from about 2,500 to over 5,000 and another way we’ve improved our response to terrorism is through our Joint Terrorism Task Forces. We’ve increased the number of terrorism task forces from 35 to over 100,” said Celeste Danzi, FBI special agent and spokesperson for the FBI Newark field office.
The JTTFs have more than quadrupled personnel from about 900 to 4,000. They come from all agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration, state police and local police along with FBI agents.
“We’ve used that increase in personnel from all agencies as a force multiplier to combat terrorism,” said Danzi who was on duty and lost friends and colleagues on Sept. 11, 2001.
Through those steps information is being shared better and faster. Danzi said the FBI has also gone from case-driven where a crime has been committed and agents investigate that crime to find and possibly prosecute the people responsible to more of a strategy of trying determine if there’s a threat in the region and then identifying the threat before it’s carried out.
This type of tireless investigative and intelligence gathering work eats up a tremendous amount of resources even in the Newark office. It is the seventh largest FBI field office in the country where squads of agents and task force officers are dedicated full-time to investigating all of the terrorism threats that come every day, day after day.
“That is a very burdensome task, but they check out these leads, they collect intelligence, develop other leads and some of that activity and intelligence work has prevented terrorist attacks,” Danzi said, but he was not at liberty to discuss specifics.
What could be disclosed is that Wednesday, Sept. 9, Samuel Rahamin Topaz of Fort Lee pleaded guilty before a U.S. District Judge in Newark federal court to one count of conspiring with others to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The FBI played a key role in bringing Topaz to justice.
The FBI evolves as technology and terrorist organizations evolve because the agency must Danzi said.
“9/11 reminds us not to become complacent. We can’t allow ourselves to be victimized again,” she said.