BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (KMSP) - In his second official visit to FBI division headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Director James Comey made it very clear: counter terrorism is the agency's top priority.
Comey said terrorists prey on "troubled souls" and not only in Minnesota, but across the country. There are 1,000 cases the FBI is currently investigating.
Just a few years ago, it wasn't so easy to get in touch with a terrorist. Now, FBI Director James Comey says communication through social media is simple, powerful and preying on the vulnerable here in Minnesota and across the country.
“Now that terrorist is on your mobile device, on Twitter on social media platform,” said Comey. “You're able to talk directly to a terrorist, which to a troubled soul feels amazing. There’s a terrorist in Iraq or Syria talking to me. Urging me to participate in this final battle and that is a message that works with young folks, especially those who are struggling to find a center in their life.”
While Director Comey wouldn't comment specifically on the ISIS recruitment trial that just wrapped up last week with convictions, he did say he hopes it will deter others from trying to join a terrorist group.
“We hope that the message it sends including the work to date, including the convictions here in Minneapolis, send a message to people that's not a path to go down,” he said. “There will be severe consequences for people who go down that path.”
But recruitment isn't the only focus. Comey said it's also important to look to the future of ISIS.
“There's going to come a day when a whole lot of very bad people are going to flow out of Syria and Iraq because the coalition is going to crush the Islamic state,” said Comey. “When they're crushed, they're going to go somewhere and a lot of them are going to flow up into western Europe, where they are a hop away from the United States.”
An interesting note, the director said the number of people trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS has dropped since last summer. It's unclear why, especially because the number of ISIS related cases the FBI is investigating has remained the same.