San Francisco has ended its cooperation with the FBI in an investigation on an anti-terror initiative that began after the 9/11 incident. San Francisco’s decision to drop out of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force could put lives at risk. The JTTF has a track record of preventing 93 Islamist terrorist attacks and plots that were meant to be unleashed against the U.S. since 2001, 12 of them were prevented this year alone.
The decision was inspired by local activist groups that claim that Arabs and Muslims are wrongly targeted by the FBI and this trend is bound to continue under Trump’s presidency.
A retired FBI special agent and founding executive of the National Counterterrorism Center, Mark Rossini said that the decision by the mayor and the police chief to withdraw the San Francisco Police Department from the JTTF is narrow-minded, adding that law enforcement should not be inspired by politics.
The 104 Joint Terrorism Task Force Units are led by the FBI all across the country. However, majority of intelligence about crime and terror originates from local sources as revealed by Claude Arnold who is a former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, who was based in California. Arnold also revealed that there’s a lower chance of uncovering networks, plots, and missing links without the support of cities.
Dozens of undercover agents and contacts in immigrant communities are stationed by the San Francisco police, they are very helpful to federal law enforcement investigations. On the other hand, two San Francisco police are federally deputized for the JTTF and as a result they have access to classified intelligence.
Rossini said that there’s need for information to circulate and by San Francisco pulling out, they’re be a loss of vital link of data that the FBI and other federal agencies and the Department of Justice will need in order to complete its cases.
The safety of Americans is bound to be heavily impacted if San Francisco withdraws from the JTTF permanently.
The JTTF is known for preventing terrorist attacks, many of which crossed the state lines. It isn’t clear as to whether the San Francisco police department will engage in negotiations on the JTTF memorandum of understanding or simply refuse to participate. However, a police department spokesperson only said that the agreement has expired and its under review.
The decision has been cheered by local activists who are critical of the JTTF after the newly appointed San Francisco police chief pulled the plug on the partnership.
Rossini and other former federal law enforcement officials have expressed their worry over the likelihood of the conflict preventing vital leads from being addressed. Rossini said that the last time he checked, San Francisco was part of the 50 states and hence it’s important for the state to continue working together when it comes to law enforcement, adding that politics should come at a later day.