The FBI’s elite Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark says it is not only monitoring a number of North Jersey residents with ties to al-Qaida, but that agents have quietly “disrupted” their activities and even deported a few.
This unusual glimpse into the inner workings of North Jersey’s primary counterterrorism force revealed the following:
- Task force investigators have discovered that every major terrorist group in the world, including Hamas and Hezbollah, has at least one North Jersey contact. The lone exception is Afghanistan’s ultra-fundamentalist sect, the Taliban.
- The task force is currently conducting more than 400 counterterror investigations. These range from probes into Bin Laden’s network to neo-Nazis to environmental terrorists.
- Each month, a task force “response” squad receives as many as a dozen new tips about possible nuclear, biological or chemical terrorism in New Jersey. These range from citizen concerns about a mysterious powder to the report that three ships were sailing to New Jersey with radiological material on board. Squad members were even dispatched to Emerson last month after school administrators received a threat to blow up schools.
- Undercover agents attend all professional football games at Giants Stadium. Agents also plan to monitor the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
- Task force agents routinely travel overseas. One is currently in Iraq; another is in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, helping to question suspected al-Qaida captives at the U.S. naval base there. Newark-based agents also played a role in the investigation of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and provided information to assist the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
In weighing his own fear of an attack, Cruise noted that northern New Jersey has a wide range of tempting and vulnerable targets, from tunnels and bridges to sports venues, shopping malls and chemical plants.