Joint Terrorism Task Forces

The concept of a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) was initiated in 1979 as an informal collaboration between the FBI and the New York Police Department to fight bank robberies.  The arrangement was formalized in 1996, when FBI field offices began to enter into agreements with local and state police to create the JTTFs. 

Under this form of cross-jurisdictional cooperation, state and local law enforcement officials remain on the local payroll but are deputized by the FBI and given clearance to access information and work under the direction of the FBI agent-in-charge. Today, every FBI field office in the country has a JTTF and more than 5,000 law enforcement, intelligence, military and civilian members are involved through the JTTFs in field investigations of actual or potential terrorism threats.

Mass Focus: Joint Terrorism Task Force

In Massachusetts, the FBI reportedly had an informal arrangement with the Boston Police Department since 1995.  In 2003, a formal JTTF Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) brought together the state police, Boston Police Department, Lowell Police Department, the MBTA Police Department, campus police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection, and the US Postal Service.  They work together with members of the military and other federal agencies. 

According to the Memorandum of Agreement, the stated purpose of the Massachusetts JTTF is the “prevention, preemption, deterrence and investigation of terrorism and activities related to terrorism, both actual and potential.”  In effect, the FBI’s JTTF turns local and state police officers into federal domestic intelligence agents who carry out operations and share information with many other agencies and entities.

Before the arrangement was formalized through the MOA, the Massachusetts JTTF was flexing its muscles.  In November 2002, the FBI and a campus police detective visited M.J. Alhabeeb,an Iraqi-born UMass-Amherst professor, to check out reports that he had anti-American views.

Image  courtesy Mifter

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