Fusion centers play a unique role in protecting their communities, informing decision making, and enhancing information sharing activities among law enforcement and homeland security partners. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) helps the National Network of Fusion Centers to develop and implement their capabilities by leading federal interagency efforts to share information and products, conduct training, deploy personnel, and provide connectivity to classified and unclassified systems. These 2010 success stories and best practices illustrate the value of the national network of fusion centers in preventing, protecting against, and responding to criminal and terrorist threats.
Fusion Centers Collaborate to Intercept a Suspicious Trailer Headed to Times Square
Multiple Fusion Centers, October 2010
In October 2010, an advisory was sent out by the New York Police Department concerning a suspicious tractor trailer whose driver reportedly diverted its route to Times Square in New York City in exchange for $10,000. This advisory was shared with several fusion centers in the affected area. Subsequently, the Rhode Island Fusion Center discovered that the original owner of the truck was a California native and asked the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center to run a background check based on the owner’s information. Within two hours of the advisory’s release, information from these two fusion centers was used to coordinate with the Connecticut Intelligence Center, which enabled Connecticut State Police to locate the tractor trailer before it reached its reported target in New York City. The Connecticut State Police searched the vehicle and questioned the driver and passenger.
Ultimately, officials concluded that the vehicle was not a threat, but the fact that these fusion centers, supported by Department of Homeland Security, were able to turn this incident from a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to resolution in a matter of three hours shows the value of the National Network of Fusion Centers.
Fusion Center Provides Critical Information in Arrest of Kidnap and Rape Suspect
Multiple Fusion Centers, August 2010
The Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC) provided information regarding the abduction and rape of a woman in Mead Township, Pennsylvania, in its August 3, 2010 daily intelligence summary, which included a description of the suspect as well as his Maine license plate number. Because the suspect had an out-of-state license plate, a fusion center analyst at the PaCIC provided the product to the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center (MIAC) along with details on the case. Based on this coordination, the Maine State Police determined the suspect had fled the United States for Canada. Working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in New Brunswick, Canada, the suspect was found and arrested on charges of kidnapping and rape.
Fusion Centers Provide Critical Information to Faisal Shahzad Case
Multiple Fusion Centers, May 2010
After the attempted bombing of Times Square by Faisal Shahzad, fusion centers across the country shared tips and leads with the federal government directly pertaining to Shahzad. Florida Fusion Center analysts discovered that Shahzad was associated with two subjects who previously resided in Florida. Pertinent information was passed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to further pursue leads. The JTTF provided the information to the National Counterterrorism Center, which used the information in a subsequent intelligence product.
In New York, an alert AAA employee filed a SAR with the New York State Intelligence Center regarding a call on May 2, 2010 asking for assistance because the caller had locked his keys inside his vehicle; the same vehicle later recovered at the airport with a firearm inside on the day Shahzad was arrested. This information was forwarded to the FBI to support investigation and corroboration.
Fusion Center Supports Tribal Drug Investigation
Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, May 2010
The Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center supported a five-month investigation led by a tribal partner, the Tohono O'odham Nation (TON) Police Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Division of Drug Enforcement. This investigation led to the arrest of 10 suspects and the apprehension of weapons, cash, vehicles, cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy – the largest drug enforcement operation in TON history. The investigation marked a key opportunity to collaborate with tribal partners and opened information sharing initiatives between several other agencies, including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and other police departments in the area.
Fusion Center in Colorado Supports Investigation of Woman Arrested on Terrorism Charges
Colorado Information Analysis Center, March 2010
In September 2009, the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC) supported an investigation of a local missing woman whose mother indicated that her daughter had converted to Islam through the Internet and had been communicating with a man from Pakistan. The CIAC was alerted that the missing woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, was possibly traveling to New York to meet the man. Upon analysis of this report, the CIAC provided this information to the local JTTF. The information supplemented an open FBI investigation on the woman.
Paulin-Ramirez was later linked to Colleen R. LaRose (Jihad Jane), who was charged in March 2010 with terrorism-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and providing material support to terrorists. Subsequent news reports indicated that suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty in February 2010 of planning to bomb the New York subway system, may have also been in contact with Paulin-Ramirez via the Internet.
In March 2010, Paulin-Ramirez was detained in Ireland with five others in connection with a terrorist conspiracy to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had portrayed the prophet Muhammad as a dog in a cartoon. The CIAC cooperated with the FBI to provide further information from their prior analysis of information pertaining to Paulin-Ramirez.
Paulin-Ramirez was ordered to serve an eight year prison sentence for providing material support to terrorists; LaRose was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements, and attempted identity theft.