Houston FBI Special Agent in Charge Speaks to ADL Board
Date: April 12, 2010
FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick Powers told ADL board members the threat of terror attacks "is in some ways more difficult to manage," these days.
Powers, who was introduced by ADL Board Chair Jay Harberg, spoke at ADL's March Board Meeting, and focused on the FBI's work in the region, especially in regard to hate crimes, civil rights issues, and domestic and foreign terrorism. Powers said the FBI valued its relationship with ADL deeply, and would continue to work with ADL to fight against hatred and for civil rights.
Powers said within the last eight to ten months, the FBI has seen a dramatic increase in the "phenomenon of self-radicalization" where terrorist organizations are using the Internet to radicalize individuals who intend to commit violent acts.
Terrorists no longer have to go to overseas training camps to be connected easily with groups such as Al Qaeda. Now, Powers said, we've gone from "very large, centralized control… to something that’s far more dangerous," and much harder to trace. "It's like hundreds of ping pong balls, rather than large boulders, being thrown at you at once," Powers said.
Powers emphasized the importance of cooperation between law enforcement agencies in fighting terror, as well as the value of individuals noting suspicious activity, persons, or objects. "We need help from you… when you say, this doesn't look right, " Powers said, individuals should report that to the FBI.
Powers also stressed the FBI's commitment to civil rights and combating hate crimes. "We track every hate crime allegation and look at it very, very, very thoroughly," he said. "By prosecuting hate crimes," he added, "we have a chilling effect on those who might perpetrate further hate crimes."
Powers brought several members of his staff with him to the luncheon, including Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos Barron, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Bonner, Community Outreach Specialist Ron Cutlip, and Special Agent and Training Director Lucy Sanfilippo.
"Give a man a gun, and he could rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he could rob the world."
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