DHS, FBI, Aid UK Investigation of London Attacks

by Jim Kouri

July 7, 2005 New York - The US Department of Homeland Security is closely monitoring the bombings in London which killed dozens of British citizens and crippled that city's mass transit system. DHS official are in constant contact with their British counterparts including MI5, England's internal intelligence and security agency.

"We have been in direct communication with officials at the state and local level and with public and private sector transportation officials. We have asked them for increased vigilance and additional security measures for major transit systems," said Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, during his morning press conference.

"The Department of Homeland Security has stood up the Interagency Incident Management Group to ensure full situational awareness around this incident and in the United States. We do not have any specific intelligence indicating this type of attack is planned in the United States, but we are constantly evaluating both intelligence and our protective measures and will take whatever actions are necessary."

A key to investigating the terrorist attacks is the vast closed-circuit television system installed in London as past of their anti-terrorism effort. It's hoped the surveillance cameras will provide the identities of the terrorists responsible for the attacks as well as information on their operation methods.

The Metropolitan Police Department and Scotland Yard are working with the United Kingdom's counterterrorism agents in their quest to bring the terrorists to justice, according to former Scotland Yard police inspector. Their prime suspects are members of an off-shoot Al-Qaeda group calling themselves the Council of Al-Qaeda Europe. This group also laid claim to the devastating terror attacks in Spain -- attacks which swayed voters to elect a Socialist president who in turn pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.

With regard to terrorist attacks in the United States -- including attacks on US mass transit systems -- The FBI's Chief Information Officer, Zalmai Azmi, stated: "One of the strongest defenses the United States has in our efforts against terrorism is to ensure that law enforcement agencies have the information they need to detect and prevent possible threats. The FBI's National Information Sharing System is a major step towards the goal of open information sharing between law enforcement agencies across the country. The FBI will continue to increase access between Regional Data Exchange (R-DEx) and other regional state, local and tribal law enforcement systems."

The R-DEx system greatly enhances law enforcement's information sharing initiatives. One example of this sharing, from the St. Louis system, is that the FBI, the Illinois State Police, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police, the St. Louis County Police and the St. Clair County (Illinois) Sheriff's Department are able to research each others case information. The program also allows users to update their law enforcement data as frequently as desired.

"By building our intelligence capabilities, improving our technology, and working together, we have and will continue to develop the capabilities we need to succeed against all threats," said FBI Assistant Director Cassandra Chandler.