As the second largest federal contributor to the nationwide network of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plays a critical role in protecting the country against the threat of terrorism. With agents assigned to counter-terrorism investigations across the United States and around the world, ICE lends its expertise in enforcing immigration and customs laws to the over 100 JTTFs to investigate, detect, interdict, prosecute and remove terrorists and to dismantle terrorist organizations.
The failed bombing attempt on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 flying into Detroit on Christmas Day is a stark reminder that the terrorism threat is ever present. ICE, along with the entirety of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), stands at the ready to respond to this threat. ICE agents assigned to the Detroit JTTF were quickly on the scene to provide support to the investigation and response effort.
"When we got the word that there was a potential terrorist attack on Flight 253, our team sprang into action," said John P. Woods, deputy assistant director of ICE's National Security Investigations Division. "We immediately provided investigative support, including Arabic language translation, travel document review capabilities and other law enforcement expertise. Thanks to our history of working together with other agencies on the JTTF, everyone knew their role when it came time to respond to this critical incident."
A few facts about ICE's role on JTTFs:
- Virtually every foreign terrorism investigation has a relationship to ICE's authorities for investigating cross-border crime. Foreign terrorists need to move money, weapons and people across international borders to conduct their operations, and ICE holds a unique set of law enforcement tools for disrupting these illicit activities.
- Our federal partners on JTTFs depend on ICE's authorities for enforcing immigration and customs laws in counter-terrorism investigations, because these prosecutions disrupt terror plots while protecting investigative techniques.
- An ICE representative serves in the second most senior position in the National JTTF and is the highest ranking DHS official in the JTTF organization.
ICE's JTTF participation is only one example of the agency's commitment to partnerships in law enforcement and homeland security.