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As a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) headquarters element, the National Security Unit (NSU) is charged with executing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and HSI's number one mission, priority and objective: to prevent terrorist attacks.

NSU is HSI's primary element that integrates and synchronizes operational equities, intelligence information, and policy efforts into a single, overarching unit to mitigate and combat threats to national security. NSU maintains programmatic oversight of all HSI engagement on the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) nationwide.  NSU further manages HSI's counterterrorism (CT) professional development training and provides operational coordination and support to all JTTF International Terrorism investigations and threat streams within ICE. NSU is responsible for developing, coordinating, facilitating, and implementing policies in support of HSI's and the U.S. government's efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities, close gaps, and defeat emerging threats in the national security arena.

The Counterterrorism Sections (CTS) within NSU are the single point of service for operational coordination and investigative support to HSI's Special Agents assigned to the JTTFs.  CTS ensures that HSI Special Agents assigned to the JTTF are engaged in every investigation where our unique immigration or trade-based authorities may be used to disrupt terrorists and their networks and prevent attacks against the homeland. Through their assignment of personnel to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s Counterterrorism Division, intelligence community agencies, and to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center, CTS is the operational lynchpin between ICE and our partners engaged in the counterterrorism fight, ensuring that DHS, ICE, and HSI have full spectrum visibility and advanced warning into current threats.

The Mission Development Section (MDS) within NSU is responsible for comprehensive programmatic and administrative oversight of HSI's engagement on the JTTF and with partner agencies in the national security mission space.  MDS works closely with CTS to synchronize NSU equities that drive proactive initiatives while managing statistical metrics and analysis across the full spectrum of NSU's portfolio.  MDS is responsible for developing, coordinating, facilitating, and implementing policies in support of HSI's and the U.S. government's efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities, close gaps, and defeat emerging threats in the national security arena. 

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents lead the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) investigative counterterrorism efforts on the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) by utilizing a broad range of criminal and administrative authorities to detect, investigate, interdict, prosecute and remove terrorists from the United States, and dismantle terrorist organizations worldwide. Outside of the FBI, HSI is the largest and longest standing contributor of federal personnel to the JTTFs nationwide.

HSI Special Agents strive to be involved in every foreign terrorism investigation where HSI equities related to immigration or trade-based crime can be utilized in furtherance of the counterterrorism mission. These include investigations into terrorist financing, intellectual property rights (IPR), immigration fraud, war crimes, contraband and human smuggling, trans-border cybercrimes, counter-proliferation, and export enforcement. Foreign terrorists need to move money, weapons, and people across international borders to conduct their operations, and HSI holds a unique set of law enforcement tools for disrupting these illicit activities.

The Counterterrorism Sections (CTS) within the National Security Unit provide programmatic oversight and investigative support to HSI's Special Agents assigned to the JTTFs nationwide. CTS ensures that HSI Special Agents assigned to the JTTF are engaged in every investigation where our unique immigration or trade-based authorities may be used to disrupt terrorist networks and prevent attacks against the homeland. CTS works to facilitate field and headquarters coordination of ongoing national security and counterterrorism investigations that will promote the most successful legal and operational outcome.

In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, HSI Special Agents initiated hundreds of terrorism-related investigations.  During that same period, HSI agents were responsible for the arrests of more than 330 subjects of national security concern and conducted seizures of money, arms, contraband and other assets related to illegal schemes.  HSI's counterterrorism efforts continue to be among the most prolific in the United States government for the prevention and disruption of national security threats against the Homeland every day.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents, supported by its National Security Unit at Headquarters, lead the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) investigative counterterrorism efforts on the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) by utilizing a broad range of criminal and administrative authorities to detect, investigate, interdict, prosecute and remove terrorists from the United States, and dismantle terrorist organizations worldwide. Outside of the FBI, HSI is the largest and longest standing contributor of federal personnel to the JTTFs nationwide.

HSI Special Agents strive to be involved in every foreign terrorism investigation where HSI equities related to immigration or trade-based crime can be utilized in furtherance of the counterterrorism mission. These include investigations into terrorist financing, intellectual property rights (IPR), immigration fraud, war crimes, contraband and human smuggling, trans-border cybercrimes, counter-proliferation, and export enforcement. Foreign terrorists need to move money, weapons, and people across international borders to conduct their operations, and HSI holds a unique set of law enforcement tools for disrupting these illicit activities.

In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, HSI Special Agents initiated hundreds of terrorism-related investigations.  During that same period, HSI agents were responsible for the arrests of more than 330 subjects of national security concern and conducted seizures of money, arms, contraband and other assets related to illegal schemes.  HSI's counterterrorism efforts continue to be among the most prolific in the United States government for the prevention and disruption of national security threats against the Homeland every day.

Notable ICE/HSI Counterterrorism Investigations on the JTTF

  • ICE/HSI Special Agents assigned to the JTTF investigated Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, a former naturalized U.S. citizen, for unlawfully failing to disclose her arrest and conviction related to her participation in two terrorist bombings in Jerusalem, Israel; one at a supermarket that Odeh allegedly chose as a target, scouted the location of, and placed the bomb at which killed two individuals and wounded many more.  Odeh furthermore failed to disclose her membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated Terrorist Organization. Odeh was de-naturalized as a United States citizen, lost her legal status in the United States, was deported to her nation of citizenship, and is barred for life from re-entering the United States.
  • An investigation by ICE/HSI Special Agents assigned to the JTTF resulted in the conviction of two men after one of the men attempted to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The subject was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the terrorist organization. In addition to the terrorism counts, the jury also found one subject guilty of committing 26 counts of bank fraud and found the other subject guilty of one count of financial aid fraud.
  • ICE/HSI Special Agents assigned to the JTTF in Philadelphia led an undercover weapons smuggling investigation resulting in the arrests of 31 subjects, most notably a reputed procurement officer for an overseas terrorist organization.
  • ICE/HSI JTTF Special Agents arrested and indicted multiple targets involved in an organized import/export scheme with an OFAC-designated Hezbollah front-company in South America's Tri-Border area, resulting in criminal convictions for export violations, smuggling, and conspiracy.
  • An ICE/HSI JTTF Special Agent led the investigation, arrest, conviction and ultimate removal from the United States of the Brooklyn imam accused of tipping off Najibullah Zazi and his co-conspirators days prior to the attempted attack against the New York subway system in 2009.  As part of this investigation, ICE/HSI agents in Denver also developed immigration fraud charges against Amanullah Zazi, a family member of Najibullah Zazi, and placed him into removal proceedings.  Amanullah Zazi later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and abetting others to receive military training from a foreign terrorist organization.
  • More than 30 ICE/HSI Special Agents were the first criminal investigators to respond to the attempted Christmas Day attack of Northwest flight #253.  They rapidly disseminated lead information to other ICE and JTTF special agents throughout the country.
  • ICE/HSI Special Agents assigned to the JTTF were influential in identifying Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber in May 2010, and utilized unique immigration authorities to arrest a hawaladar who allegedly provided funds to execute the attack.
  • An ICE/HSI Special Agent assigned to the JTTF authored the criminal complaint against Brahim Lajqi, a citizen of Kosovo who intended to engage in acts of terrorism targeting at major historical landmarks in the Washington, D.C. area.  ICE/HSI arrested Lajqi who ultimately pleaded guilty and was convicted of fraud and misuse of visas.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/03/2019