In late March, all 93 U.S. Attorneys gathered at the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington, D.C., for national security training and briefings on threats to the United States. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III emphasized that preventing terrorism remains the top priority of the Department of Justice.
Here in the Eastern District of Michigan, the National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office works on your behalf every day to prevent acts of terrorism. We work closely with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Our lawyers, intelligence specialist and other professionals work to share information, investigate threats and prosecute crimes. Our team includes men and women with backgrounds in military intelligence as well as criminal prosecution. Our people have employment experience with the U.S. Army and Navy, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections. The work of one of our lawyers is cited in the 9-11 Commission Report.
Among our active cases is the prosecution of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is charged with attempting to blow up a Delta Airlines flight over Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009. A trial date has been set for October. Our lawyers are also prosecuting a case against members of the Hutaree militia group, who are charged with seditious conspiracy and weapons violations. The indictment alleges that the defendants were plotting to kill police officers. Trial is set for September. Earlier this year, we convicted at trial a man who lied to FBI agents about his work as an intelligence agent for the government of Saddam Hussein. His lies had enabled him to obtain a security clearance to work as a translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq.
Our National Security Unit also focuses on protecting our international border. We prosecute cases involving false identity documents, like the ones used by the 9-11 hijackers to enter the United States. We also prosecute cases involving human smuggling. Our intelligence specialist works out of the new Operational Integration Center, which opened its doors at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base on March 24. There, law enforcement partners from the United States and Canada monitor the shoreline and share information to protect our border and waterways.
Our National Security Unit also investigates and prosecutes terrorism financing, as recommended by the 9-11 Commission. Our lawyers have prosecuted cases involving bulk cash smuggling, the illegal transmission of money overseas and money laundering. We bring cash smuggling cases that occur at our land borders as well as at the international terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Another area of focus is illegal exports. In addition to prosecuting cases involving the export of technology to prohibited countries, we have also charged defendants with stealing trade secrets from corporations in our state and taking them to foreign countries. One case charged the theft of hybrid technology from Ford Motor Co. Another case charged the theft of electric fuel technology from General Motors. These cases involved technologies that were researched and developed by Michigan auto companies after the investment of significant time and resources. We seek to recover these losses and to deter others from stealing from innovators in Michigan.
Our office also charges cases involving threats and hoax threats. Our attorneys have prosecuted cases involving false distress calls to the U.S. Coast Guard. We have prosecuted cases involving letters containing powder purporting to be anthrax and false reports to law enforcement regarding acts of terrorism. These hoaxes divert law enforcement resources that could be otherwise deployed. To deter such conduct, hoax threats are prosecuted aggressively.
In addition to prosecuting cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also coordinates the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, a group of law enforcement officials, emergency managers and private security professionals that meets quarterly to share information and coordinate training. We also train to be prepared to respond to any critical incident, including acts of terrorism, that may occur in our district.
All of our enforcement efforts are guided by our deep respect for the civil rights and civil liberties that make our country worth protecting. We diligently comply with all legal requirements and checks and balances to make sure that we honor individual rights while protecting our citizens. Our Civil Rights Unit investigates allegations of misconduct by other law enforcement agencies, and we work to protect members of our community who are the victims of backlash discrimination.
We can’t guarantee that we will prevent every act of terrorism, buy you should take comfort in knowing that federal law enforcement in the Eastern District of Michigan works very hard on your behalf to protect the safety and security of our community.
Barbara L. McQuade
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Michigan