“The recent arrests on terrorism-related charges of six young Somali-Americans from Minneapolis and others throughout the United States have prompted renewed questions over the issue of entrapment, and over the degree of real security achieved by disrupting plots that law-enforcement had helped shape.
The six, ages 19 to 21, were charged with conspiracy to aid and support a terrorist organization, and are accused of trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also called ISIS).
“These were focused men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization,” Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said at a news conference.
But the case relies partly on a confidential human source (CHS), who had been a part of the group seeking to join ISIL before he began cooperating with the FBI.”
Statement Before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
February 26, 2015
“Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the dynamic threat posed by foreign fighters traveling in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the continued threat to the United States posed by homegrown violent extremists. These threats remain one of the biggest priorities for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Intelligence Community (IC), and our foreign, state, and local partners. I am pleased to be here today with strong state and local partners—Charlotte, North Carolina Police Chief Rodney Monroe and Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Minnesota Sheriff Richard Stanek.”
“The close and trusted cooperation between the U.S. and Europe is getting even tighter. Two senior officials from Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, visit Washington, DC this week. Head of Europol Operations, Deputy Director Wil van Gemert and Head of Counter Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Manuel Navarrete, have an extensive program of talks with counterparts across the Administration, including the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Homeland Security Investigations), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of the Treasury, United States National Central Bureau Interpol, and the Intellectual Property Rights Task Force.”
Michael Steinbach, the Deputy Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified to the House Committee on Homeland Security today that the approximately 150 Americans have joined extremists groups in Syria, and that domestic lone wolf attacks, like the Charlie Hebdo attack or the Lindt Chocolate attack, may occur in the U.S.
This news article argues that “U.S. law enforcement agencies are a long way from being able to effectively track threats of the kind a gunman posted on Instagram before his execution-style murder of two New York City policemen last weekend.” Policy changes that could deter events like the above murder from occurring include increasing police data analytics capability, increasing the availability of mining software for law enforcement, and trained personnel to use the equipment to the fullest of its capacity. The downside to these recommendations are time, personnel, and budgetary constraints, as well as false-positives.
Some larger police agencies have investigated various software programs to detect threats. The LAPD had utilized PredPol to determine the time and location to optimize patrols. The LAPD is also considering Geofeedia, which mines location data from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Flickr. Some law officials are concerned that these tool may infringe on privacy and other civil liberties.