Local News

FBI Officials Dispel Notion Of High Terrorist Activity In N.C.

Posted March 3, 2003

— With the recent arrests of suspected terrorists who have had ties to North Carolina, it may appear that the state is a hotbed of terrorism, but officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that is not the case.

Khalid Mohammed is just the latest suspected terrorist with ties to North Carolina. Officials say he attended two North Carolina universities. Last month, two Hezbollah supporters were sentenced in Charlotte for smuggling cigarettes. Plus, a former N.C. State University graduate student was accused last month of leading the U.S. operations of a Palestinian terrorist group.

Raleigh's FBI director, Frank Perry, said North Carolina is not a destination for terrorists, but as the state's population changes, he admits so do opportunities for terrorists to blend in.

"With the industry and the universities and bases and high-tech companies that are here, in a sense, we are becoming a very young melting pot," Perry said.

Perry's office gets thousands of tips about suspected terrorist activity.

"Obviously, human sources are extremely valuable. I dare say one human source is worth five satellites," he said.

Perry said the FBI prioritizes the tips and suspects. Those considered most dangerous are on the "hot list."

"It might be obvious as to which ones on that list. Anyone with knowledge or material support of the actual hijackings and events of 9/11," he said.

For security reasons, Perry said he cannot get too specific about how the FBI tracks terrorists.

"Something that sounds well-worn or obvious. It is looking for something or someone or some activity that doesn't fit the norm," he said.

The goal of the FBI is to penetrate terrorist cells, which is why it is important for them to develop informants from every country and culture. The FBI office in Raleigh says people have been very perceptive and forthcoming when comes to suspected terrorist activity in their area.

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