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FBI Track Al Qaeda Associates – In New Jersey

From North New Jersey’s Record:

William Sweeney Jr. monitors potential terrorists in Hudson County. He says tips can come from unlikely places.

Kelly: Al-Qaida associates in N.J.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Osama bin Laden may be hiding in the impenetrable mountains near the Afghanistan border, but FBI counterterror officials say they have identified several of his associates in a far more accessible spot — northern New Jersey.

The FBI’s elite Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark says it is not only monitoring a number of North Jersey residents with ties to al-Qaida, but that agents have quietly “disrupted” their activities and even deported a few.

These glimpses into North Jersey’s war on terrorism, from a series of interviews with task force leaders, come on the heels of revelations last summer that Bin Laden’s terror network had regained strength. But that rebuilding was thought to have taken place overseas.

This is the first time since the 9/11 attacks that FBI counterterror officials have revealed an al-Qaida presence in North Jersey.

There are definitely facilitators in this state,” said Kevin Cruise, the veteran FBI counterterror agent who directs Newark’s 100-member terrorism task force of FBI and CIA agents as well as state police and even local beat cops.

One of Cruise’s deputies was even more specific.

There are people in your county who are affiliated with known al-Qaida members overseas,” said Jack Jupin, the FBI agent who heads the counterterror squad for Bergen County…

“There are many people who are like-minded who want to commit acts of terrorism and have just not taken that extra step,” said Cruise, who keeps a “wanted” poster of Bin Laden on his office wall.

Sometimes, he said, counterterror agents “disrupt” these North Jersey residents with al-Qaida ties.

Cruise declined to describe any case in detail. But in general, such disruption methods ranged from outright deportations to quiet visits by FBI agents in which suspected terrorists are told their activities are being monitored.

“There are many disruptions that occur that the public does not know about,” Cruise said.

For the past six years, FBI officials have routinely declined to discuss counterterror measures in northern New Jersey. But last week, the FBI granted The Record limited access to the offices of its Joint Terrorism Task Force, in a gleaming glass building in Newark overlooking the Passaic River.

This unusual glimpse into the inner workings of North Jersey’s primary counterterrorism force revealed the following:

  • Task force investigators have discovered that every major terrorist group in the world, including Hamas and Hezbollah, has at least one North Jersey contact. The lone exception is Afghanistan’s ultra-fundamentalist sect, the Taliban.
  • The task force is currently conducting more than 400 counterterror investigations. These range from probes into Bin Laden’s network to neo-Nazis to environmental terrorists.
  • Each month, a task force “response” squad receives as many as a dozen new tips about possible nuclear, biological or chemical terrorism in New Jersey. These range from citizen concerns about a mysterious powder to the report that three ships were sailing to New Jersey with radiological material on board. Squad members were even dispatched to Emerson last month after school administrators received a threat to blow up schools.
  • Undercover agents attend all professional football games at Giants Stadium. Agents also plan to monitor the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
  • Task force agents routinely travel overseas. One is currently in Iraq; another is in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, helping to question suspected al-Qaida captives at the U.S. naval base there. Newark-based agents also played a role in the investigation of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and provided information to assist the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed…

    As a result, task force agents are in daily contact with officials at the CIA and other American intelligence agencies who monitor phone and Internet traffic from North Jersey to known operatives for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

    “I talk to them 10 times a day,” Jupin said of the CIA.

    Cruise holds several top-secret intelligence briefings each week with fellow agents as well as police from such small towns as Old Tappan and Ho-Ho-Kus.

    Amid the wash of tips and ongoing cases, though, Cruise said the task force has to make difficult calculations — especially when monitoring phone or Internet contacts.

    “If it’s somebody who is simply communicating with somebody who is known to be an al-Qaida operative, that in itself is not illegal,” Cruise said. “It’s what they intend to do.”

  • The Democrats, or even Arlen Specter, better not get wind of this “monitoring” or there will be the devil to pay.

    Not to mention that some of these heroes even get deported.

    Terrorists have rights too, you know. In fact, their rights seem to be ever increasing.

    And to hell with the rest of us.

    This article was posted by Steve on Monday, October 15th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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