Intelligence: The Naked City

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October 19,2008:  Since September 11, 2001, New York City (NYC) has established a substantial terrorism intelligence operation. This includes sending investigators and analysts overseas. Back home, NYC police set up databases of terror related information collected locally, and obtained from the FBI, CIA and other sources. The police also established informant networks among the Moslem community.

But there was also a publicity campaign for a terrorist hot line, using ads with the tagline; "If you see something, say something." Last year this resulted in 1,944 tips. These led to five arrests. But only two of these were terrorist related acts (one for having bomb making materials, and one for plotting terrorist acts.) Not revealed was how many of those tips resulted in useable information for the databases, or led to recruiting new informants. For regular police work, the CI (confidential informant) is a key tool in catching criminals and preventing crimes. Several terrorist plots have been aborted because of informants. You do not want to reveal any details of your CI network, as this could render CIs ineffective, if not dead.

The NYC counter-terror efforts has been very effective so far. Dozens of plots have been detected and aborted. There have been no Islamic terror attacks in the city since September 11, 2001. Well, at least no major ones. There have been some incidents that may have been related to Islamic radicalism. But the informant network, and growing body of knowledge about potential terrorists has revealed that the threat is not as great as first thought, and can be managed if you keep an eye on things.

 


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