October 15th, 2007 16:14 EST
The FBI, A Tale of Two Priorities
On Sunday, three of our top counterterrorism execs held a training session on the increasingly important issue of homegrown terrorism and radicalization for law enforcement professionals attending this week’s annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in New Orleans.
On Monday morning, when Director Mueller addressed the larger general assembly, he touched only briefly on terrorism, instead spending the lion’s share of his keynote remarks talking about crime—particularly violent crime, which is steadily increasing in pockets around the nation for the first time since 1993.
For the FBI, the dueling presentations reflect the reality of the post-9/11 era: focusing on preventing terrorist attacks—whether by extremists based overseas or radicalized terrorists within our own borders—as our overriding priority, while still helping to tackle the most serious criminal threats impacting local communities.
“We are realizing that national security is as much about reducing the number of homicides on our streets as it is about reducing the threat of terrorism,” the Director told the law enforcement execs. When it comes to protecting our local communities from violence, he said, “We are with you.”
How so, specifically?
- By focusing more on gang violence . We’re handling double the number of gang cases that we did in 2001, and we’ve stood up more Safe Streets Task Forces in mid-sized cities, “those most affected by the increase in violent crime and gang activity.”
- By bringing to the table a suite of tools for long-term takedowns , including intelligence expertise, undercover work, and surveillance techniques that help dismantle groups from the top down. The Director cited major cases in Memphis , Tennessee , and Aurora , Illinois , where we assisted in successful investigations of gangs like the Latin Kings, the Gangster Disciples, and the Vice Lords.
- By ramping up during times of crisis and urgent need. For example, in a recent case where “three teenagers were executed in cold blood on a Newark basketball court,” we developed source information that led to the arrest of one suspect near the nation’s capitol. We’ve also sent agents to New Orleans to help solve murders and take the most dangerous criminals off the streets.
- By tapping into our international connections. A case in point: when a California man named Artur Khanzadyan killed his girlfriend, left her in the trunk of his car, and fled for the hills of Armenia , we used our overseas presence in the region to have him arrested. The Armenians charged him with murder, and with the help of two Glendale police detectives who testified at his trial, he was convicted and sentenced to prison.
Please visit this website for more information on how we support our partners in targeting violent crime , often using the same skill sets as we do to dismantle terrorist networks, including through:
… Our new street-level intelligence mapping program;
… Our expertise in all things forensic, from crime scene management to laboratory analysis;
… Our [ longstanding databases of criminal and fingerprint records] used daily by our partners;
… Our host of training and educational programs; and
… Our global partnerships on gangs, including a new initiative that’s gathering intelligence and information from overseas.
And please read the Director’s full speech, now posted online, and visit the website of the International Association of Chiefs of Police www.iacp.org for more details on the conference.
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