(USA Features) The Justice Department Inspector General’s office released a scathing report Wednesday in which it cited the FBI for a half-dozen domestic terror incidents after agents failed to follow-up on initial clues and suspects.
FBI field offices did not conduct further, probing investigations of individuals the bureau had labeled as homegrown violent extremists. The failure to follow up led to six terrorists carrying out attacks that killed 70 people, though they were on the bureau’s radar at the time.
Agents knew about the six, but quickly closed their cases after concluding they were not threats to U.S. national security, the DoJ IG’s report noted.
Among the terrorists missed: Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla, in 2016; former U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009; and Esteban Santiago, who killed five at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, the Washington Times reported.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the FBI’s counterterrorism division managers did not conduct consistent oversight of homegrown violent extremist assessments, which then allowed those potential terrorists to follow-through with their plots.
About 40 percent of the FBI’s counterterrorism assessments were not even addressed for 18 months, despite the fact that bureau officials had found the investigative lapses, Horowitz noted in his report.
“The FBI has acknowledged that various weaknesses related to its assessment process may have impacted its ability to fully investigate certain counterterrorism assessment subjects, who later committed terrorist acts in the United States,” the inspector general wrote.
Another terrorist who was left alone included Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the individuals who carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon terror attack, even after he was flagged by an internal bureau database, the Times reported.
The IG’s recommendations for reform include the implementation of guidelines from a 2017 internal FBI review of its Guardian threat-assessment system, as well as ensuring clear guidance is passed to field offices on investigative steps and establishing a plan to assess threats who have mental health issues.
“We agree it is important to continue to improve the assessment process, provide adequate guidance, training and program management for all Guardians and those specifically addressing homegrown violent extremists,” wrote Suzanne Turner, an FBI section chief in the inspection division. “In that regard we concur with the seven recommendations for the FBI.”