Homeland Security director: ‘See something. Say something’ is working
The director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security says that New Jerseyans who practiced “See something. Say something” have been instrumental in stopping terrorists in the state.
Director Jared Maples says that tips from the public helped investigators stop Gregory Lepsky of Point Pleasant from planning a bomb attack in New York City. He pleaded guilty earlier this year.
"When they went in, they found a black ISIS flag, a pressure cooker and actual instructions for making bombs,” Maples says.
Maples says that the office was flooded with calls last year when alleged terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov, of Paterson, rammed down bikers in New York City.
"We had tons of leads coming in about where he was, where the trucks were rented,” he says.
And two years ago when Ahmad Rahimi planted bombs at the Semper Five charity race in Seaside Park and in Chelsea, New York, Maples says that it was someone in the public who helped capture him.
"A bar owner saw this guy sitting there, it happened to be Rahimi…and he realized something was off,” says Maples.
The director says that while their lines often get a large number of calls, they have ways of sorting them out.
"We actually have an automated system and there's a very specific methodology that we employ,” he says. “I can't get into all the specifics of that but there's a way we siphon through."
Maples says that members of the public should never be afraid to report something they feel may be suspicious, even if it is just a backpack left at a bus stop.
"They may not be something at the moment, maybe it's just a benign backpack, but if all of a sudden we start seeing patterns…over a course of a week or a month, that tips us off to something potentially bigger,” he says.
The department also tracks every event in the state where there are more than 100 people in attendance.
"Anywhere where there may be a festival, fair or a theater event…we're aware of them,” Maples says.
The director says the department is also putting a focus on increasing security for the Jersey Shore.