FBI analyst to MN Senate: terrorism has changed

The FBI told Minnesota state senators that threats of terrorism have changed and it's requiring law enforcement to change, too.

Senator Warren Limmer, the chair of the senate judiciary committee, said that since 9/11, they've never had an update on the state of terrorism.
On Tuesday, lawmakers learned that terrorism has evolved and while they’re trying to stop Minnesotans from going overseas to join terrorism groups, they’re just as worried about them returning home

An FBI analyst said that mass casualty attacks are no longer the biggest concern.

"This is the main thing we're seeing right now. It's not a 9/11-type thing where foreign operatives are coming into this country. It's Americans or persons who are acting on their own to do an attack," said analyst John Watson.

Attacks such as the recent bombing at Dar Al Farooq mosque in Bloomington are still under investigation, and its ties to domestic or international terrorism are not known.

But according to Watson's perspective, there's little difference; individual actors are often inspired by international terrorist groups.

To prove his point, he showed a 2014 video of an ISIS terrorist executing Syrian soldiers. The terrorist spoke in English with the clarity of an American or Canadian.

“If he survives the conflict … if he were to come home, he's much, much more dangerous than when he left. This is an individual who is about to commit a war crime here," he said.

Watson told senators the key to investigating and preventing terrorism is to build better relations with communities.

"I think a lot of people falsely believe that somehow it would be helpful just to profile a whole lot of people, and it wouldn't be. You're wasting your time looking at a whole lot of innocent people. Even if you could, you wouldn't because it's illegal, unconstitutional and immoral," he said.

Watson says the most important thing for law enforcement to do is community outreach, get to know people better. He told senators that communities must perceive law enforcement and the FBI as members of the community, too.