DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - FBI agents in Minneapolis who were assigned to
white-collar and drug crimes are now working on issues related to terrorism,
an FBI official said Tuesday.
Ray Morrow, an assistant special agent, said during a regional training
session for local law enforcement agencies that counterterrorism is now
agency's top priority.
"Our mission in Minneapolis as well as throughout the country is to
prevent another terrorist attack, and to do that we had to make changes
within our division," Morrow said.
The changes, some of which happened this month, include enlarging the
foreign counterintelligence team; shifting the focus of some agents from
drug crimes to terrorism; and focusing a white-collar crime squad on the
illegal funding mechanisms that promote terrorism.
The agency also enlarged the division's "Infrastructure Protection
Group" - which tries to prevent attacks on power plants, pipelines,
waterworks and other public utilities - from two agents to at least
The FBI's Minneapolis division, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota
and South Dakota, has about 112 agents.
Besides the FBI's changes, Morrow said the Minneapolis Joint Terrorism
Task Force, which consists of federal, state and local law enforcement
officers, has more than doubled in size to at least two dozen members.
Morrow credited that group, which includes immigration agents, with
summoning the foresight to "grab" Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th
hijacker, who was arrested in Minnesota before the Sept. 11 attacks and
now charged with conspiring in them.
Moussaoui was detained after behaving oddly at an Eagan flight
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U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger said northern Minnesota "plays a
crucial and vital role" in fighting terrorism because of the Canadian border
and the international port at Duluth.