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Tag: counterterrorism

ATF’s Scott Sweetow Retires as Acting Director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center

Scott Sweetow

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Scott Sweetow, the acting director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), retired Saturday after more than 29 years as a special agent with ATF.

Sweetow says he plans to run a private consulting firm based in Alabama specializing in explosives related counterterrorism and helping multinational companies identify terrorism indicators and pre-attack indicators.

“I will also be making myself available as an on air or print for media to comment on events in my wheelhouse, ” he tells ticklethewire.com.

Additionally, he’ll be doing international training for the State Department’s Global Anti-Terrorism Assistance  program overseas.

Sweetow, a long-serving senior executive with ATF and a former deputy assistant director for intelligence and special agent in charge, became the deputy director of TEDAC in January 2016, and became its acting director in May 2019.

It was the first time that the FBI, who leads the TEDAC, ever had an ATF senior executive assume such a long-term key leadership role.

Sweetow started with ATF in 1990 in Los Angeles and spent several years working in the Arson and Explosives group. He served as a Certified Explosives Specialist. And he was part of ATF’s National Response Team, which investigated high-profile crimes including the Oklahoma City bombing and the Centennial Olympic Park bombings.

TEDAC’s mission is to exploit IED information and material to produce actionable intelligence to protect the United States and its international partners from terrorist attacks, according to the FBI. TEDAC is part of the FBI Laboratory system, and operates primarily from its headquarters in Huntsville, Ala., as part of the FBI’s continuing expansion in the area.

The replacement director of TEDAC, an FBI senior executive, will be report in the coming days.  Sweetow’s ATF replacement is expected to report in early 2020.

 

Homeland Security Official Who Scaled Back Counterterrorism Efforts Is Resigning

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Department of Homeland Security official and presidential appointee will leave his post after scaling back on some counterterrorism efforts involving weapons of mass destruction.

James F. McDonnell, who led the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, will step down at noon Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan requested McDonnell’s departure.

In his seven-sentence resignation memo, McDonnell did not give a reason for resigning.

McDonnell has faced criticism earlier this year for promoting a scientifically-disputed system for detection of airborne infectious agents such as anthrax.

McDonnell also directed “the scaling back or elimination of multiple anti-terrorism programs at Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities detect and block WMD-related threats,” The Los Angeles Times wrote.

Michael Driscoll, Counterterrorism Expert, Named Special Agent in Charge of New York’s Criminal Division

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Michael J. Driscoll, a 23-year veteran of the FBI and a counterterrorism expert, has ben named special agent in charge of the Criminal Division for the bureau’s New York Field Office.

Most recently, Driscoll served as a section chief in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters.

Driscoll began his FBI career in 1996 at the New York Field Office, where he worked on counterterrorism. During his time in New York, he help investigate al Qaeda conspirators involved in the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

For his work investigating al Qaeda, Driscoll earned an Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Services in 2002.

In 2004, Driscoll was transferred to FBI headquarters to serve as the bureau’s representative to the al Qaeda Department of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

Driscoll returned to the New York Office when he was promoted to supervisor in 2005, taking charge of the squad responsible for extraterritorial investigations in Africa. His counterterrorism work continued in the New York Hudson Valley region before being promoted to the coordinating supervisory special agent for New York’s Counterterrorism Program.

In 2013, Driscoll became assistant legal attaché for London, where he oversaw the Cyber Program and worked closely with U.K. law enforcement and intelligence services.

in 2016, Driscoll became assistant special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Field Office’s Cyber and Counterintelligence Programs.

Two years later, Driscoll returned to FBI headquarters as chief of the Violent Crime Section.

A graduate of State University of New York in Albany, Driscoll earned his law degree from Hofstra University School of Law in Hampstead, N.Y. He briefly worked as an attorney in commercial litigation.

Jill Sanborn, a Veteran Counterterrorism Expert, to Head FBI’s Minneapolis Division

FBI Special Agent Jill Sanborn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Jill Sanborn, a veteran counterterrorism agent who led the FBI’s investigation of the San Bernardino mass shooting in 2015, has been named special agent in charge of the bureau’s Minneapolis division.

Sanborn will replace Richard Thornton, who is retiring today after leading the Minneapolis office since 2014, when she reports to the office in April.

The Minneapolis office covers Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“Minnesota and the Dakotas have such rich and diverse cultural and economic reputations and I look forward to getting to work with law enforcement, business, and community leaders to partner in keeping those sectors safe and secure,” Sanborn told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

Sanborn began her career as a special agent with the FBI in 1998, when she was assigned to the Phoenix office to investigate fraud and computer intrusions. For most of her nearly 20-year career, Sanborn has been involved in counterterrorism operations, holding leadership positions in the Washington Field Office and the Los Angels Field Office.

Ex-Bush Aide Is Trump’s Top Contender for Homeland Security And Counterterrorism Adviser

Tim Bossert

Tim Bossert

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s top contender for homeland security and counterterrorism adviser is Tom Bossert, a former top George W. Bush aide, two senior transition officials told Politico

Trump met with Bossert at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday. He was joined by national security advisor Michael Flynn, incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

If appointed, he would replace Lisa Monaco, who holds the position under President Obama.

Bossert currently is a fellow at the Atlantic Council. 

Under Bush, Bossert served as deputy homeland security adviser.

Homeland Security Director to Deliver Speech at Duke University for 9/11 Anniversary

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson will discuss counterterrorism and new threats to the U.S. at Duke University’s Stanford School of Public Policy on Sept. 8, just three days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Duke Today reports the event is free and open to the public.

Johnson, who took the helm at Homeland Security in 2013, will bring a lot of experience on the issues to the speech.

“Jeh Johnson has had a seat at the table in the key decisions about U.S. security policy over the past seven and a half years,” said David Schanzer, a Sanford School professor and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

“Secretary Johnson is a thoughtful leader and a man of integrity and is uniquely positioned to share his insights on national security,” added Gen. Martin Dempsey, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and current Rubenstein Fellow at Duke.

The speech is the fifth annual event to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.

A Chat With the Head of the Detroit FBI on ISIS, Corruption, Jimmy Hoffa and Flint

David P. Gelios

David P. Gelios

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — It has been anything but dull since David P. Gelios arrived eight months ago from FBI headquarters in Washington to head up the Detroit FBI office.

For one, his agents have been busy probing the highly-publicized Flint water crisis.  And then there’s the kickback scandal in Detroit Public Schools that has resulted in charges against a dozen principals, a school administrator and a greedy vendor.  He says the investigation, which is still open, hit close to home because of his previous life as a school teacher.

A native of the Toledo area, Gelios graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. He went on to work as a high school teacher in Bakersfield, Calif., a college volley ball coach at Ball State and an outreach officer for the University of California Office of the President.

In 1995, he joined the FBI, first working in the Sacramento Division. He then went on to work in a number of offices including Juneau, Louisville, New Haven and headquarters in D.C., his last stop before Detroit where he served as chief of the Inspection Division, overseeing all FBI field inspections, national program reviews and agent-involved shootings

Of his new assignment in Detroit, he says:

“I like to call it one of the better kept secrets in the FBI.”

In a wide ranging interview, Gelios recently sat down with ticklethewire.com’s Allan Lengel to talk about public corruption, the challenges of encrypted communication devices and apps, cyber crime, ISIS recruiting, the Hoffa investigation and organized crime.

The following interview has been trimmed for brevity. The questions have been edited for clarity.

DD: As a former teacher, did you look at the kickback investigation into the Detroit school principals and the administrator from more than just the perspective of an FBI agent?

Gelios: I absolutely did and in my remarks at the announcement of the charges at the press conference, I said, having been a former teacher, I found it especially disturbing to me knowing what I know about education and knowing what I know about education in the city of Detroit, that people would embezzle such limited funds from a struggling school district.

DD: Being an FBI agent, does it surprise you that people would take advantage of a situation like that?

Gelios: You know in my career, nothing really surprises me any more. School districts have been embezzled from in the past and they continue to be embezzled from.

DD: Do you expect more charges in the school scandal?

Gelios: I would only say that it’s possible. It remains a pending investigation, but that’s as far as I’ll go with that.

DD: In the Flint water system mess, the state has its own investigation and the FBI has an investigation with the U.S. Attorney and EPA. Are you working with state investigators?

Gelios: We have a separate investigation, but the door is open for collaboration between the state investigation and the FBI’s investigation. But I’d best characterize it as an independent investigation being conducted with EPA and the FBI.

David Gelios (far right) at press conference for school corruption probe.

DD: Are you concentrating more on federal employees and federal charges?

Gelios: It’s a pending investigation, so I’m not going to be able to say much. But I think we’re investigating the entire situation, so ours would not just be focused on federal employees. Often times when there’s a state investigation and a federal investigation, we work through the appropriate prosecutors at the state level and the federal levels to see where we can most effectively bring charges. It’s conceivable that some charges would simply be at the state level and some charges would be at the federal level, if and when there are federal charges.

Read more »

Matt Gorham Named Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism at the Washington Field Office

fbi logo large

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com 

Matt Gorham, deputy assistant director for the Critical Incident Response Group for the FBI, has been named special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the bureau’s Washington Field Office.

Gorham joined the FBI in 1995 and was first assigned to the Pittsburgh Division, where he worked a variety of cases including violent crime, drugs and on counterterrorism matters.

In 2009,  he was assigned to the International Operations Division directing all FBI operations and deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since joining the bureau, he’s held leadership positions in the Criminal Investigative Division, the Pittsburgh Division, the Richmond Division and the Cyber Division, according to a press release.

He begins his job at WFO in May.