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For Immediate Release March 20, 2003
Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- FBI Director Robert S. Mueller announced today that the FBI has put in place extraordinary measures as part of Operation Liberty Shield to protect the American people from acts of terrorism during the war with Iraq.

While our armed forces are leading the fight overseas, the FBI is ready to defend Americans from retaliatory attacks here at home," said Mueller. "We are bringing to bear the full weight of our resources, expertise, and partnerships. We are running down every lead, responding to every threat, coordinating with every partner, and doing our utmost to keep terrorists from striking back."

Over the past 18 months, the FBI has restructured from top-to-bottom to strengthen its ability to predict and prevent acts of terror. For the past year, it has been developing specific strategies to protect Americans in the event of a war with Iraq. Immediately upon declaration of war, the FBI launched its comprehensive plans. Steps include:

Activating the Strategic Information and Operations Center, or "SIOC," at FBI Headquarters to serve as the 24/7 national command post;

Setting up special command posts in each of the FBI's 56 field offices to work closely with Joint Terrorism Task Forces to gather intelligence and respond quickly to potential threats and reports of suspicious activity;

Sending Special Agents to interview a number of Iraqi-born individuals and others in the U.S. to assure them of the FBI's responsibility to protect them from hate crimes and to elicit information on any potential operations of Iraqi agents or sympathizers; and,

Actively investigating others who have links to terrorism.

"The FBI is working around-the-clock to protect this nation -- gathering intelligence, quickly investigating tips and leads, and taking actions against those who may do us harm," said Mueller. "Every Agent and every resource necessary has been put into service."

The Bureau's broad-based initiatives since the 9/11 terrorist attacks have dramatically improved its preventative capabilities. More than a thousand additional Special Agents have been permanently assigned to counterterrorism investigations. The FBI is coordinating more closely than ever with partners in the U.S. intelligence community and with state, local, and international law enforcement. The result has been numerous FBI terrorism-related arrests and convictions.  

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