Last week, an Oakland resident, who is an ISIS sympathizer, was charged in federal court with planning terrorist attacks in the Bay Area and supporting terrorism. This federal indictment came at the conclusion of a year-long intensive investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with agents assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
Some of the details of these planned attacks were revealed in court and through an ABC 7 I-Team investigation and they are frightening. They also reveal our vulnerability to attack here in San Francisco. That in turn raises the questions why the SFPD is the only major law enforcement agency in the nation that opted out of the JTTF, and why our department is no longer sharing and/or exchanging vital information with this organization related to home grown terrorist in our community.
The FBI investigation into Amer Sinai Alhaggagi, which involved undercover agents, revealed among other things:
- Alhaggagi planned to sell cocaine laced with rat poison in Bay Area nightclubs.
- He showed FBI agents an ISIS bomb-making manual, along with photographs of guns he said that he obtained, and he asked these undercover agents "Do you think I should kill my non-believer friends? That's like sending an all-out statement that no one is safe. I'll just call them over and tie them up and execute them."
- He stated to undercover agents "I live close to San Francisco, that's like the gay capital of the world. I'm going to handle them right, LOL. I'm going to place a bomb in a gay club, Allah or by God, I'm going to tear up the city. The whole Bay Area is going to be up in flames."
Does anyone remember the June 12, 2016 terrorist attack/hate crime massacre against the LGBT community at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida? That attack claimed the lives of 49 innocent victims with 58 people wounded and a devastated community asking why. Could it have happened here in San Francisco or the Bay Area? Looks like it could have if not for the investigative efforts of FBI agents and those officers from Bay Area agencies who are assigned to the JTTF.
Who was not involved in this investigation, even though some of the targeted sites were in San Francisco and our own LBGT community was a target? I will tell you -- it was our own SFPD investigators who were previously assigned to the JTTF. Since the SFPD departed the JTTF in early 2017, our officers are no longer participating in these investigations of potential and probable terrorist attacks.
Is some of this caught up in "red tape" with the City & County of San Francisco, the Police Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and the SFPD? Yes, of course.
Is some of this political posturing by certain elected and appointed representatives on the Board of Supervisors and/or the San Francisco Police Commission who may be exaggerating this being because the FBI is a federal agency and some equate it with cooperating with the administration of President of the United States? Absolutely.
Are the FBI and JTTF the main investigative federal agency for immigration and sanctuary cities? No, and they never were.
When the federal grand jury indictment of Alhaggagi came down, the FBI Special Agent in Charge, John Bennett, made a strong statement. He said "This was a case of grave importance for us. This was a clear and present danger for public safety here in the Bay Area."
Public safety is paramount to those who serve in the SFPD and our direct participation with the JTTF will increase the level of safety for all of our residents without infringing on any of their rights under long established city policies and department policies.
Since San Francisco is a noted major target for potential terrorist attacks and with increasing international and national attacks on innocent victims, it does not make any sense to self-segregate our city from information and intelligence that can secure and enhance our safety.
Rejoining the JTTF immediately will provide for that additional security and enhancement. Let's cut through the "red tape” and the politics and get this done. Our residents deserve it.