What Needs to Be Done On Homegrown Terror

By Matthew Olsen

Former Cipher Brief Expert Matthew Olsen is the Assistant Attorney General for National Security. He is also the former Chief Trust and Security Officer at Uber. Olsen spent over twenty years working for the U.S. government and served as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), as the General Counsel for the National Security Agency, and as former Special Counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Cipher Brief: Nothing is definitive yet, but Omar Mateen appears to be a case of a lone wolf – possibly inspired by ISIS, but so far with no direct connections – with an apparent hatred for gay people.   However, he was on the FBI’s radar.  Twice he was investigated, once in 2013 for making comments to colleagues alleging terrorist ties, and again in 2014 based on potential connections with the American suicide bomber who blew up an explosive laden truck in Syria.   Although the FBI determined Mateen was not a threat at the time and there was no legal case against him, shouldn’t Mateen have been on the intelligence community’s radar?  What are the standards?

Matthew Olsen:  Generally information about FBI subjects of terrorism investigations is shared widely with the intelligence community. So the intelligence community, including the CIA and NCTC, would generally have access to that information to be able to support the FBI investigation with information that may be contained in databases that are held in those other organizations.

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