The Justice Department (DOJ) called out the FBI for its shortcomings in alerting law enforcement and preventing terror attacks when a potential terrorist is out of the purview of the DOJ.
DOJ Inspector Michael Horowitz pointed out such an individual in an unclassified summary of his report, The Washington Times reported. The individual, who was not named, was on the FBI’s radar on and off since 2013. Sources said he was likely in a military prison.
Although the FBI “intermittently” intervened, Horowitz said that was insufficient. “We found that these efforts did not adequately mitigate the threat,” he wrote in the report, saying similar risks may exist with other homegrown violent extremists (HVEs).
In the classified report, the DOJ recommended five ways the FBI could close the gaps to mitigate threats from extremists not held in DOJ facilities.
The FBI has been chastised in the past for its failure to alert other agencies about dangerous individuals. One of the worst cases occurred when the FBI did not inform the Army about the radical views of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood Islamist terrorist who gunned down 13 people in 2009 on his base. The FBI was aware of Hasan’s numerous interactions with radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who went on to be a leader in al-Qaeda in Yemen.
An investigation into that shooting by a Senate committee in 2011 concluded the FBI had “compelling evidence” that could have prevented the attack, according to former Senate Joe Lieberman, who chaired the committee.
According to FBI Director Christopher Wary, who testified before a Senate subcommittee last month, the bureau’s highest priority in terms of its counterterrorism efforts is tracking down HVEs.
“And what makes it so hard is that there are not many dots to connect with some of these people,” he said. “They pick soft targets, they use easy to use weapons, you know, IEDs, cars, knives, guns. And they can make decisions on the spur of the moment. We’re trying to get better at looking for red flags, as to when people who are getting radicalized sort of make that switch into potentially mobilizing.”
Wray noted that community outreach and partnership with state and local law enforcement officials are the ways to counter the threats posed by these individuals.
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