Stopping ISIS Threats in New Jersey
How dangerous is ISIS? FBI Director James Comey, during a speech in Colorado, said ISIS has become more of a terror threat to the U.S. than Al Qaeda.
Law enforcement officials in New Jersey are once again stressing the importance of getting information from the public to stop potential terror attacks before they can be launched.
Chris Rodriguez, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said efforts continue to build relationships with different communities and leaders of all faiths, but the law enforcement community definitely needs people to be "on the lookout for young men or women going down the wrong path. In this new threat environment, the public is often the first line of defense."
Drew Campi, assistant special agent in charge of the Newark Division of the FBI, Counter Terrorism branch said identifying individuals who have become radicalized and joined ISIS is very difficult because many of them are going through this process online on social media sites.
"What frequently happens is, people may recognize a change in their behavior, they've become more introverted, cut off," he said. "Maybe they start engaging in more theological discussions about Islam. We don't need to be hysterical but we do need to be aware of our surroundings, sensitive to things that look out of place. If something seems strange or out of place do not hesitate to report it, we cannot do our job without the public helping us."
Rodriguez said there is no specific profile of people being recruited by ISIS.
"But what we are seeing generally speaking are those individuals who don't feel like they fit in," he said.
He also said many people may feel reluctant to speak up and report something, but doing so is very important.
"Voming forward, being proactive, particularly in this threat environment is paramount," Rodriguez said.
So who should you contact if you notice something odd or suspicious?
"People can definitely call the FBI at 973-792-3000 or the state police or a religious or community leader, and people need to realize just because someone is brought to our attention does not mean they are going to become the subject of an investigation, I want to make that very clear," Special Agent Campi said.
He added if you think someone is acting strangely "we most likely would follow up with that individual, but we would never release the information to the person they've identified.'
Campi said the bottom line here is "we rely on their information and their tips to us, so that we can then take the ball and run with it and do our logical investigation to mitigate any potential threat."