Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the FBI has ongoing terrorism investigations in all 50 states.
Mr. Sessions’ revelation came at a Department of Justice event to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. He did not provide any details about the investigations or specific threats.
The attorney general also touted the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute terrorism cases. Since 9/11, the Justice Department has secured convictions for more than 580 defendants on terrorism or terrorism-related charges, Mr. Sessions said. In the last five years, the Department has charged more than 160 foreign fighters, homegrown violent extremists and ISIS supporters in 45 judicial districts, according to Mr. Sessions.
“I am amazed at how effective our team has been in preventing attacks and prosecuting terrorists before they can carry out their murderous aims,” Mr. Sessions said. “Seventeen years ago, few would have predicted that we would go so long without another attack on the scale of what happened on 9/11.”
But, Mr. Sessions cautioned that law enforcement must remain vigilant because terrorism threats are constantly evolving. He said that a terrorist in Alexandria, Egypt, can contact a sympathizer in Alexandria, Virginia, in a matter of seconds because so much communication between suspects has moved online over the past 17 years.
“They can plot attacks that can be carried out in a matter of hours,” he said. “And so — now more than ever — we have to stay one step ahead of the terrorists at all times. After all, they only have to succeed once. We have to succeed every time.”
Mr. Sessions said the Justice Department is better prepared to handle terrorism threats since 9/11 because of the creation of the National Security Division, which did not exist at the time of the attacks.
The Justice Department’s prosecution of Islamic State, or ISIS, sympathizers has declined in 2018. No Islamic State supporter had been charged with a crime until July, when Demetrius N. Pitts was accused of plotting to attack Cleveland’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration.
Experts say the reason for the decline in prosecutions is because the Islamic State’s caliphate has been destroyed, cratering its attraction to young people.
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