Four years after the September 11 terror attacks, the FBI in Detroit has more than tripled the number of agents assigned to counterterrorism, becoming one of the nation’s largest anti-terror units, reports the Detroit News. Most investigative efforts focus on Detroit’s large Arab-American population, one of the biggest concentrations outside the Middle East. More than 100 agents, analysts, and task force officers are assigned to terror-related squads. Of 29 major terror groups identified by the U.S. government, the Detroit FBI has active investigations involving 17.
Eric M. Straus, chief of counterterrorism at the U.S. attorney’s office, cited a “dramatic sea change in how we at the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office do our jobs. We’ve gone from an old-time law enforcement mentality to an intel/law enforcement mind-set.” At the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, director Imad Hamad said, “People should feel good about more agents, more law enforcement. This gives us a sense of security.” Most FBI investigations are focused on the funding of international terrorists, said Daniel Roberts, agent in charge of the Detroit FBI. “We are aggressively following the flow of money,” to the Iraqi insurgency and other groups like al-Qaida and Hezbollah, Roberts said. Much of the local terror war is mundane. Agents check out hundreds of false leads, like the tip about the Arab businessman who passed a briefcase to another man or the pilot who strayed too close to a nuclear plant.