“This is the first time since the 9/11 attacks that FBI counterterror officials have revealed an al-Qaida presence in North Jersey.”
“Kelly: Al-Qaida associates in N.J.,” from Record of Bergen County:
Osama bin Laden may be hiding in the impenetrable mountains near the Afghanistan border, but FBI counterterror officials say they have identified several of his associates in a far more accessible spot — northern New Jersey.
The FBI’s elite Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark says it is not only monitoring a number of North Jersey residents with ties to al-Qaida, but that agents have quietly “disrupted” their activities and even deported a few.
These glimpses into North Jersey’s war on terrorism, from a series of interviews with task force leaders, come on the heels of revelations last summer that Bin Laden’s terror network had regained strength. But that rebuilding was thought to have taken place overseas.
This is the first time since the 9/11 attacks that FBI counterterror officials have revealed an al-Qaida presence in North Jersey.
“There are definitely facilitators in this state,” said Kevin Cruise, the veteran FBI counterterror agent who directs Newark’s 100-member terrorism task force of FBI and CIA agents as well as state police and even local beat cops.
One of Cruise’s deputies was even more specific.
“There are people in your county who are affiliated with known al-Qaida members overseas,” said Jack Jupin, the FBI agent who heads the counterterror squad for Bergen County.
Cruise, who supervised FBI investigations of terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole before taking over the Newark task force, cautioned that his agents have no information about an imminent attack here. But he said several al-Qaida sympathizers would try if given the chance.
Tiny Minority of Extremists Alert:
“There are many people who are like-minded who want to commit acts of terrorism and have just not taken that extra step,” said Cruise, who keeps a “wanted” poster of Bin Laden on his office wall.
Sometimes, he said, counterterror agents “disrupt” these North Jersey residents with al-Qaida ties.
Cruise declined to describe any case in detail. But in general, such disruption methods ranged from outright deportations to quiet visits by FBI agents in which suspected terrorists are told their activities are being monitored.
“There are many disruptions that occur that the public does not know about,” Cruise said.
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