FBI Director Talks Counterterrorism, Benghazi During Minn. Visit

Updated: 06/18/2014 7:04 AM
Created: 06/17/2014 7:24 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

The capture of the suspected ringleader of the 2012 Benghazi attack and the threat posed by some Somali men from Minnesota possibly joining the fighting in Syria - the director of the FBI answered questions on both issues during a rare stop in Minnesota on Tuesday.

FBI Director James Comey came to the Twin Cities to meet with state and local officials on a range of issues. But he told the media counterterrorism continues to be the bureau's No. 1 priority - and Minnesota is very much a part of that effort.

About two dozen young men from Minnesota have traveled to Somalia to join the terror group Al-Shabaab in recent years. Now, a few Somali men may be joining terrorist operations on another front.

"Syria is something that I worry about every single day," Comey said.

For Comey, Americans traveling to train in terrorist tactics and techniques in Syria is a big concern. But he said the problem is not unique to our area.

"I don't want to leave with you the impression that it's a Minneapolis problem. The 100 or so people we are tracking who have traveled, gone and stayed, gone and come back, are from everywhere in the United States," Comey said.

Comey also called Minneapolis a model, in terms of preventing such travel and radicalization, and he applauded the links in Minnesota between law enforcement and the Somali population and other communities.

"It is most likely that a sheriff's deputy or police officer is going to see or hear about a traveler looking to go, or a traveler returning, and we have to make sure we are connected closely to those people so we hear about that and respond to it," Comey said.

Comey also touted the capture of Abu Khattala, announced on Tuesday. Khattala is accused of orchestrating the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 that killed four Americans.

"The message is: We will shrink the world to find you. We will shrink the world to bring you to justice," Comey said.

But he said the FBI's work on Benghazi is far from over.

"We are determined, through this investigation, to hold accountable all of those who are involved in the attack and the murder of our folks," Comey said.

Khattala is in U.S. Custody, although Comey declined to say where he's currently being held. He will be prosecuted in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Photo: KSTP-TV

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