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Homeland Security

21 March 2003

FBI Escalates Counterterrorism Measures

(War with Iraq triggers new level of readiness, director says) (530)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has heightened its
counterterrorism measures since the outbreak of hostilities with Iraq,
according to a statement from Director Robert S. Mueller March 20.
The agency opened a new national command post to coordinate
counterterrrorism efforts and information all over the United States.
Special command posts have been established to gather intelligence and
respond quickly to potential threats or suspicious activity.
The FBI has also begun conducting interviews with Iraqi-born
individuals in the United States to elicit information on any Iraqi
agents with intent to do harm in the country.
Following is the text of the FBI press release:
(begin text)
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
March 20, 2003
Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- FBI Director Robert S. Mueller announced today
that the FBI has put in place extraordinary measures as part of
Operation Liberty Shield to protect the American people from acts of
terrorism during the war with Iraq.
"While our armed forces are leading the fight overseas, the FBI is
ready to defend Americans from retaliatory attacks here at home," said
Mueller. "We are bringing to bear the full weight of our resources,
expertise, and partnerships. We are running down every lead,
responding to every threat, coordinating with every partner, and doing
our utmost to keep terrorists from striking back."
Over the past 18 months, the FBI has restructured from top-to-bottom
to strengthen its ability to predict and prevent acts of terror. For
the past year, it has been developing specific strategies to protect
Americans in the event of a war with Iraq. Immediately upon
declaration of war, the FBI launched its comprehensive plans. Steps
--Activating the Strategic Information and Operations Center, or
"SIOC," at FBI Headquarters to serve as the 24/7 national command
--Setting up special command posts in each of the FBI's 56 field
offices to work closely with Joint Terrorism Task Forces to gather
intelligence and respond quickly to potential threats and reports of
suspicious activity;
--Sending Special Agents to interview a number of Iraqi-born
individuals and others in the U.S. to assure them of the FBI's
responsibility to protect them from hate crimes and to elicit
information on any potential operations of Iraqi agents or
sympathizers; and,
--Actively investigating others who have links to terrorism. 
"The FBI is working around-the-clock to protect this nation --
gathering intelligence, quickly investigating tips and leads, and
taking actions against those who may do us harm," said Mueller. "Every
Agent and every resource necessary has been put into service."
The Bureau's broad-based initiatives since the 9/11 terrorist attacks
have dramatically improved its preventative capabilities. More than a
thousand additional Special Agents have been permanently assigned to
counterterrorism investigations. The FBI is coordinating more closely
than ever with partners in the U.S. intelligence community and with
state, local, and international law enforcement. The result has been
numerous FBI terrorism-related arrests and convictions.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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