'A little paranoia' keeps US vigilant: FBI

2012-11-19 14:01
A police officer (R) and others walk in the streets covered in debris near the World Trade Centre towers 11 September 2001, in New York. (File, AFP)

A police officer (R) and others walk in the streets covered in debris near the World Trade Centre towers 11 September 2001, in New York. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, "a little paranoia" on the part of the American people helps the country remain vigilant to terror threats, a top FBI official has said in an interview.

"The FBI is about two things - it's about arresting people and neutralising threats," said Michael Clancy, deputy assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterterrorism division.

Clancy in particular was talking about Operation Tripwire, an initiative begun several years ago and aimed at raising awareness among businesses about terror threats, and teaching them what to do if they see something suspicious.

"Churches, businesses - it is their responsibility too to report actions as they see," Clancy said.

When Khaled Aldawsari, a Saudi national living in Texas on a student visa, bought a large quantity of phenol, a chemical used to make explosives, the company that delivered it alerted police.

Surveillance of his computer allowed authorities to determine that he was attempting to build a "weapon of mass destruction" to attack several key US targets, and he was subsequently arrested.

Much as the Department of Homeland Security encourages individuals to report suspicious behaviour through its "See Something, Say Something" campaign, the FBI asks businesses, churches and stores to do the same.

Cinema shooting

"I think a little paranoia is OK - not a lot of paranoia - but Tripwire is good in the sense that it keeps a lot of businesses out there a little more vigilant," he said.

"That's a good thing, particularly as we get further and further away from the events of 9/11," Clancy explained.

"People tend to have a short memory, you want to keep people focused on exactly what happened on 9/11, that perhaps there are things people should have reported... it's about lessons learned, it's about keeping people vigilant."

The FBI came under sharp criticism for failing to see the signs ahead of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theatre in July that left 12 dead, or a deadly attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin the following month.

But Clancy described those assailants as people on the fringes who did not pose a "credible threat", adding that the United States is such a large country that it would be extremely difficult to thwart every potential threat.

"It's almost impossible. It's a big country, over 300 million people, people have different ideologies, different beliefs - to know whether all of a sudden one day, someone is going to go and commit a horrific act like that," he said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    fbi  |  us  |  9/11 attacks  |  us cinema shooting  |  security

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Romania rally to down Canada
Lancaster upbeat over Burgess's union future
LIVE: Fiji v Uruguay
Scotland primed for Samoa

Are you burning the candle at both ends? Listen to your body and your emotional reactions. Know when to slow down or stop. It is a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.