On the 17-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack a month ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau has been busier than ever fighting terrorist threats.
Wray said that although “we’re safer” than we were back in 2001, terrorism has evolved and it moves much quicker thanks to the digital space and technology.
“The online issue is a challenge, right? I mean, terrorism today moves at the speed of social media. The part of it is engaging with social media companies in a way to try to get them to do certain things they can do voluntarily,” said Wray in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”
Wray has been FBI director for over a year and oversees the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which receives about 15,000 terrorism tips a year. Each of which is reviewed by the large team.
But as Wray alluded to, the bureau relies on cooperation from tech companies in the digital realm to conduct a lot of these investigations.
“We’re getting much better cooperation than we used to. … I think there’s a view that this is a shared threat. … We all have kids. We all have family members. We all have potential victims,” said Wray.
Even though the team also focuses on threats from abroad, it’s the threats in the U.S. that the FBI pays special attention to.
“I think the threat, today’s terrorism threat, still includes sleeper cells, Al Qaeda, all the kind of major terrorist organizations that you would think of,” said Wray to CBS. “But we’re also very focused now on homegrown violent extremists, which are people who are largely here already, in the United States…Big cities, small towns, coast to coast. And these are people who are largely radicalized online.”
There have been 5,000 terrorism investigations within the last year, 1,000 of which have involved homegrown violent extremists.
“The Bureau has thwarted a number of terrorist attacks recently, including one aimed at the San Francisco pier, another at a Miami mall, and two more that targeted Fourth of July celebrations in Cleveland and Minnesota. In all, the FBI has made about 120 terrorism-related arrests in the past year, Wray said,” writes Fortune.
Author’s note: Virtual terrorism is an increasing problem. It’s impossible to catch all suspicious behavior on the internet, even for the powerful FBI. The odds are that some terrorists will get through and use social to recruit and commit crimes.