INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The FBI says it investigates twelve or more terrorism-related threats every month here in Indiana.
Since the terror attacks on September 11, 18 years ago, agents and investigators say the world has gotten harder when it comes to preventing these attacks.
“People are looking more and more for the ideological motivation to commit violence,” said FBI Indianapolis Division Special Agent in Charge, Grant Mendenhall.
He says on a daily basis their agents are following up on terroristic threats, no matter how big or how small.
“A dozen or more on a monthly basis,” said Mendenhall.
Former FBI agent and President/CEO of Veracity IIR, Doug Kouns, says the number for the state of Indiana seems normal.
“Indiana is most likely similar to other states in the midwest,” said Kouns.
In 2018, Marlonn Hicks of Crown Point was sentenced to 15 years for distributing information on explosives and poisons to use in a terror attack.
In June, a judge sentenced Akram Musleh of Brownsburg to 100 months in prison for attempting to travel to join ISIS.
“Communications became between people who were interested in foreign terrorist organizations and their ideologies and had more ready access to that information,” said Mendenhall.
The FBI says that’s the role social media plays in homegrown violent extremism. The organization identifies ‘homegrown extremist’ as people who are born in the U.S., who never left the country, are radicalized online by a foreign terrorist organization.
“You can reach anybody anywhere in the world and talk to them at any time. And they do their recruitment pitches, they do things very methodically, they are very accepting of these people,” said Kouns.
The FBI looks for three pillars before they can launch a domestic terrorism investigation.
“First there has to be a potential violation to federal law, there has to be a threat of force or violence, and third it has to be motivated by some type of ideology,” said Mendenhall.
There is a number of factors that make it harder for investigators to determine a motive. On one hand, ever-changing technology and easy access to social media. On the other, a mix of ideologies coming together.
“There have been and probably will be more mass causality events in the United States than you can explain,” said Mendenhall.
The FBI is urging anyone if they see something, say something.