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Archive for November 14th, 2014

Weekend Series on Crime History: Organized Crime in the 1930s in Los Angeles

Detroit’s Top FBI Agent Paul Abbate Talks About ISIS, Gangs, Corporate Espionage and Violence

 

Paul Abbate

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Paul M. Abbate arrived in Detroit last fall to take over the local FBI office, days after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick got a hefty 28-year prison sentence. Kilpatrick was whisked away in handcuffs.

But the scent of corruption lingered, and Abbate suddenly found himself heading up an FBI office, where public corruption investigations continue to be a high priority.  In the past few years alone, besides the mess at city hall, several people in the Wayne County government have been convicted of corruption charges. That investigation remains open

Before arriving here, Abbate headed up the counterterrorism division in the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which handles terrorism investigations domestically and overseas.

Before that, he spent time at FBI headquarters, Newark,  New York, Los Angeles, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was involved in such FBI investigations as Benghazi and Pan Am 103.

October marked his first anniversary in Detroit.

A native of the New Haven,  Conn. area, the very affable Abbate, an 18-year veteran of the FBI,  recently sat down with Allan Lengel of ticklethewire.com to talk about ISIS, traditional organized crime, the agency’s relationship with the Arab-American community, local gangs and use of social media, corporate espionage, violence and how he ended up in Detroit.

“I actually asked to come here,” he says, adding that he’s been impressed with the people of Michigan.

The following is an interview with Abbate, which has been trimmed for brevity. The questions have been edited for clarity.

DD: Is there any sense that ISIS  or ISIL has any presence or connection here?

Abbate: It’s something that we’re constantly vigilant about, proactive in terms of trying to be in front.  I wouldn’t say that we have any specific or credible information that there’s an ISIL presence here in Michigan at this time. But it’s something, 24/7, we’re always on guard for.

DD: The Internet has become a big tool for recruiting. Do you see any of that activity here?

Abbate: That’s everywhere.

DD: Is that monitored out of headquarters?

Abbate: We work in conjunction with the Counterterroism Division in headquarters. And that type of investigative work is carried out throughout the 56 field offices including here as well. When you talk about focusing on a specific area, the Internet and the reach of the Internet has really broken that down. Any person sitting anywhere in the world can reach out and attempt to recruit, radicalize and incite anyone else in the world whether it’s here in Michigan or anywhere in the United States.

DD: Do you have any sense of al Qaeda having some presence here?

Abbate: Like the earlier questions you ask, I would say that we don’t have any specific or credible information with regard to any particular group like that, but that’s what we do. That’s what we’re on the watch for. It’s our top priority to identify if it’s here and prevent an attack from occurring.

DD: Do you see anything in Michigan, an exchange of people coming and going from Syria, that might concern you?

Abbate: We’re always on the look out for that. We had a case here , we had an individual who was arrested  this past March who was seeking, as alleged in the complaint, to go over to Syria to join up with a terrorist organization. We’ve had a number of cases nationally where we’ve had people travel there.

DD: How would you describe your relationship with the Arab American community here?

Abbate: I think it’s strong. Again the community outreach that we do is broad based, so I don’t like to single out any one particular community. With respect to the Arab American community, we  have a very robust outreach, with various aspects of that community and individuals. It’s strong. We go to various events that are held within the community. We hold regular meetings here to share ideas, to hear from the various communities.

DD: In some parts of the country there have been concerns over the years that the FBI has been too aggressive in monitoring activities in mosques. Is there a concern here that you’ve heard?

Abbate: I think a lot of those earlier concerns that have been around for a long time, now to a great extent, have been overcome.  Certainly that sort of distrust or concern still exists to some level, and we do continue to hear that. But I think we’ve made great strides.

Read more »

Professor Sues College, Saying She was Retaliated Against for Talking to FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A physics professor who claims she was retaliated against for alerting the FBI to illegal activities at the California Institute of Technology’s NASA lab sued the school Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

Sandra Troian alleges in the suit that the school violated the whistleblower policy by trying to drive her out. She claims she was falsely accused of wrongdoing and that the school kept her out of events and lectures.

“Instead of resolving the issues around this incident and trying to get to the bottom of it, they decided to cover up the problem and turn up the heat, trumping up one charge after another,” Troian said at a news conference.

The allegations stem from a postdoctoral researcher whom Troian hired to work on a space propulsion system. She said the researcher sent out restricted data and made it available for others to see.

“Two weeks after my last contact with the FBI, my world came crashing down around me, as Caltech started a merciless campaign ongoing to this day of retaliation for my speaking to the FBI,” she said. “I’ve been humiliated, degraded, isolated, treated like a pariah on campus.”

 

FBI Steps Up Investigation of FIFA As World Soccer Body Says It Did Nothing Wrong

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is stepping up its investigation of FIFA, the world soccer body that just announced it did nothing wrong, CNN reports.

The FBI is investigating corruption issues that include the 2018 and 2022 bidding process.

Even as the bureau presses on, the FIFA ethics committed announced Thursday that it found no corruption.

A former top FIFA official is cooperating with the FBI and has provided documents and recordings of meetings, CNN reported.

FBI: Man Robbed Bank Wearing Same Clothes He Wore Upon Being Released from Jail

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Christopher Andrew Gibson is accused of robbing a bank while still wearing the clothes he had on when he was released from jail earlier in the day, NBC 7 San Diego reports.

Surveillance video shows Gibson wearing the same button-up shirt he was wearing when he was released from George Bailey Detention Center last month.

Authorities arrested the 26-year-old man this week.

The Well Fargo robbery took place about 14 miles west of the jail.

Justice Department Quietly Collecting Data from Cell Phone Users on Mass Scale

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has been collecting data from cell phone users on a mass scale for the past seven years by using electronic devices to mimic cellular towers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The U.S. Marshals Service reportedly flew Cessna planes with technology capable of simulating cell phone towers.

The planes have flown out of at least five metropolitan airports but have a “flying range covering most of the U.S. population.”

By collecting data this way, the Justice Department doesn’t have to get records from cell phone companies.

Secret Service Blasted for Problems That Allowed Fence Jumper to access White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The man who jumped over a White House fence and burst into the White House in September managed to avoid security because of a litany of problems with the Secret Service, CNN reports.

A Homeland Security report found numerous failures that allowed Omar Gonzalez to so easily access the White House. The problems involved lack of training, disorganization and miscommunication.

After Gonzalez jumped over the fence, the radio and alarm systems weren’t working as planned. The canine handler responded too late because he was talking on his personal cell phone.

The canine officer “gave Gonzalez the required verbal warning about the canine, caught a glimpse of Gonzalez heading toward the bushes, and gave his canine the command to apprehend Gonzalez,” the review said.

“The canine, however, did not have enough time to lock onto Gonzalez and may not have seen Gonzalez at all,” it said.

The incident drew harsh criticism of the agency.

“A combination of technical missteps, lack of radio discipline, improper use of equipment and aging infrastructure,” as well as an improper setting on the Secret Service’s radio system, contributed to those problems, it said.

Other Stories of Interest