Joint Terrorism Task Force
There are 104 FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country, where local, state, and federal agencies work together to combat terrorism on a regional scale. Coordinating the efforts of all those regional task forces is the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, a fusion of local, state, and federal agencies acting as an integrated force to combat terrorism on a national and international scale.
The National Joint Terrorism Task Force, or NJTTF, was established in 2002 to manage the burgeoning Joint Terrorism Task Force program—the number of task forces almost doubled overnight, from 35 pre-9/11 to 56 soon after 9/11 (50 more have been established since then). Of course, JTTFs have been around since the 1980s, starting in New York and Chicago. Originally located at FBI Headquarters, the NJTTF moved to the multi-agency National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), where it performs its mission while also working with NCTC personnel to exchange information, analyze data, and plan anti-terrorism strategies.
So what exactly is the NJTTF’s mission? Managing the Bureau’s JTTFs around the country is major part of the operation, and it’s a huge job—there are currently more than 4,000 JTTF task force members from over 600 state and local agencies as well as 50 federal agencies. According to Special Agent Gregory Massa, who heads the NJTTF, “We support each task force in every way imaginable—from sharing intelligence and terrorism threat information to providing big-picture terrorism analysis…from offering guidance and oversight to setting sound program policies…from supplying resources for manpower, equipment, and space to facilitating training.”
Another vital aspect of the NJTTF’s mission is sharing information among its 80 members—officers, agents, and analysts—who then pass the information onto the 48 different agencies they represent. Those agencies—from the law enforcement, intelligence, homeland security, defense, diplomatic, and public safety sectors—include the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. military, and federal, state, and local partners. Men and women from the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Air Marshals, New York City Police Department, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Amtrak Police, and dozens of other organizations work together every day in the global war on terrorism.
NJTTF members are also working together on joint initiatives designed to address broader terrorism threats. For example:
- Operation TRIPWIRE focuses on information and intelligence-sharing operations from the NJTTF’s participating agencies to help identify terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S.
- Correctional Intelligence Initiative assists JTTFs and correctional facilities to combat prison radicalization and recruitment of prisoners within federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial prisons.
- Rail Liaison Agent Program works to protect the country’s critical mass transit and freight rail infrastructure by collecting and disseminating rail-related terrorism intelligence info to JTTFs and critical rail partners nationwide.
- Military Working Group is comprised of 12 Department of Defense agencies who look at military-specific terrorism threats.
The NJTTF and the JTTFs work tirelessly to protect Americans from terrorism, but they can’t do it alone. Says Agent Massa, “Every law enforcement officer, first responder, military member, intelligence analyst, and private citizen has a role to play in the global war on terror.” And he asks that suspicious activity of any kind be reported to your local JTTF or FBI field office.
National Security Priorities:
Protect the United States from terrorist attack
It’s our overriding priority—to head off terrorist attacks by identifying and disrupting the plots of international and domestic terrorist operatives and cells, by cutting off terrorist financing and undercutting other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers, by sharing information and intelligence with partners worldwide, and by providing strategic and operational threat analysis to decision makers and the wider intelligence community.
Our work locally is led by our Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force, created in September 2001 and strengthened in the days following the 9/11 attacks. The task force—made up of 43 representatives from local, state, and federal agencies—runs down any and all terrorism leads, develops and investigates cases, provides support for special events, and proactively identifies threats that may impact the area and the nation. We also have a satellite Joint Terrorism Task Force working out of Reno, Nevada.
The Las Vegas JTTF—with the assistance of the District of Nevada U.S. Attorney's Office—established the Nevada Emergency Operations and Notification Network website. This website facilitates the flow of information between public and private sector entities, law enforcement agencies, and our JTTF.
The work of the task forces is bolstered by the Las Vegas Field Intelligence Group, which centralizes and spearheads the analysis and sharing of terrorism-related intelligence (and intelligence on all major threats) both inside and outside the Bureau.
Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
Today, more foreign spies—not just traditional adversaries but also allies, hackers, and terrorists—are trying to steal more of our secrets from more places than ever before. What do they want? Our country's juiciest classified information, of course—from military plans to national security vulnerabilities to our own intelligence activities. But increasingly, they also want our country's trade secrets—innovations that give us a leg up in the global marketplace—and seemingly harmless technologies that could be used to develop or improve weapons of mass destruction.
In Las Vegas, we have a dedicated foreign counterintelligence squad that—in line with the FBI’s National Strategy for Counterintelligence—works to keep weapons of mass destruction and other embargoed technologies from falling into wrong hands, to protect secrets of the U.S. government (including the intelligence community) and critical national assets, and to help strengthen the national threat picture by proactively gathering information and intelligence. Our work includes knowing the key targets in our territory, developing strategic partnerships with area institutions, and disrupting the efforts of insiders and key nations.
Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes
The FBI leads the national effort to investigate high-tech crimes, including cyber-based terrorism, hostile intelligence operations carried out over the Internet, and more traditional cyber crime and fraud. Our work includes identifying and stopping: the individuals and enterprises behind the most serious computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code; online sexual predators who use the Internet to meet and exploit children and groups that use it to produce, possess, or share child pornography; operations that target U.S. intellectual property; and the most significant perpetrators of Internet fraud.
In Las Vegas, we have a squad dedicated to cyber crimes and attacks, and we participate in a variety of multi-agency partnerships. Our Reno Resident Agency also runs a Cyber Crimes Task Force.
Combat public corruption at all levels
Corruption in government threatens our country’s democracy and national security, impacting everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads and schools. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, too, wasting billions of tax dollars every year.
Our investigations in Las Vegas focus on violations of federal law—such as bribery, contract and procurement fraud, antitrust violations, environmental crimes, and election fraud—by public officials in local, state, and federal government, as well as violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Protect civil rights
The FBI is the lead agency for investigating violations of federal civil rights laws…and we take that responsibility seriously. Specifically, we aggressively investigate and work to prevent hate crime, color of law abuses, human trafficking, and freedom of access to clinic entrances violations—the four top priorities of our civil rights program. We focus on all of these issues in Las Vegas.
Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
Criminal organizations—from mob families to street gangs to drug trafficking outfits—sow violence and crime in our communities and create underground economies that undercut free enterprise.
Most of our work in this priority throughout the Las Vegas Division focuses on violent gangs and drugs through a variety of law enforcement partnerships.
Combat major white-collar crime
Fraud—the art of deliberate deception for unlawful gain—is as old as history; the term "white-collar crime" was reportedly coined in 1939 and has since become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. Today's con artists are more savvy and sophisticated than ever, engineering everything from slick online scams to complex stock and health care frauds.
We have two squads dedicated to fighting white-collar crime in the Las Vegas region. The first focuses generally on fraud; the second targets health care and mortgage fraud.
Combat significant violent crime
Even with our post-9/11 national security responsibilities, we continue to play a key role in combating violent crime in big cities and local communities across the United States. Beyond our work targeting violent gangs and other criminal enterprises, we focus on such issues as crimes against children, crime on Indian reservations, the search for wanted fugitives, serial killings, kidnapping, murder for hire, bank robberies, and special crimes like the carriage of weapons on aircraft and crime on the high seas.