On Black Friday, FBI trying to keep track of 48 known Islamic radicals in the US
The FBI is pulling out all the stops to try and keep track of 48 Islamic radicals who may carry out a terrorist attack. Elite surveillance teams consisting of up to a dozen agents, along with assistance from local law enforcement, are watching the radicals 24-7.
But the problem is that these suvelliance operations are enormously expensive and take manpower away from other anti-terror operations.
“There is a very significant number of people that are on suspicious watch lists, under surveillance," Republican Sen. Dan Coats said.
Coats, who sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence, would not comment on specifics, but said the around-the-clock surveillance is a major commitment for the bureau. "The FBI together with law enforcement agencies across the country are engaged in this. It takes enormous amount of manpower to do this on a 24-7 basis. It takes enormous amount of money to do this," Coats explained.
These elite FBI teams are reserved for espionage, mob violence and high-priority terrorism cases, like a joint terrorism task force case last June, where a 26 year old suspect Usaama Rahim, was killed outside a Massachusetts CVS. When a police officer and FBI agent tried to question him, the Boston Police Commissioner said Rahim threatened them with a knife, and was shot dead.
With at least a dozen agents assigned to each case, providing 24/7 coverage, this high level of surveillance reflects the severe risk associated with suspects most likely to attempt copycat attacks after Paris.
"It is a big resource drain. Yes it is. Almost overwhelming," Coats said when asked about the demand placed on the FBI. "There will be a lot of people over the Thanksgiving weekend that will not be enjoying turkey with their family. They'll be out there providing security for the American people and the threat is particularly high during this holiday period."
One of the lessons of Paris is that the radicalization process can be swift. According to published reports, friends of the female suspect who was killed in the siege of Saint Denis, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, abandoned her party life only a month before joining her cousin, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the plot's on the ground commander. He was also killed in the siege.
FBI Director James Comey has consistently drawn attention to this phenomenon, calling it the "flash to bang," that the time between radicalization and crossing the threshold to violent action can be very short. Last week, in a rare public appearance with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Comey would only say that "dozens" of suspected radicals have been under "tight surveillance."
The first question is, why can't we deport these people before they strike? As long as the Islamic radicals do not commit an overt illegal act, the Constitution guarantees their protection. I don't know what criteria the FBI uses to determine why these 48 are more dangerous than others, but you would think that if they had written about committing a violent act of terror, or said something about committing violence, this would be enough to get them bounced out of the U.S. Since they're still here, any threats they may have made must not have risen to the legal definition of "terrorist threat."
You would think that if they were here illegally, they already would have been deported. So those 48 must be either citizens or legal immigrants.
I know it's splitting legal hairs, but the FBI is constrained from making arrests in most cases because of due process. But the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Some way must be found to do more than keep these radicals under survellance.