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FBI to Honor 9/11 Hero John O’Neill, the Consummate Counterterrorist

Posted by kinchendavid on September 12, 2006

FBI to Honor 9/11 Hero John O’Neill, the Consummate Counterterrorist

By Jim Kouri

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will hold a special dedication ceremony on Sept. 15, 2006 in Kaiserslauten, Germany, to honor the memory of former FBI Counterterrorism Chief John P. O’Neill. While the Clinton Administration slept during the terrorists’ war against the United States, O’Neill did all he could to fight the radical Islamists who wished to place the American people in harm’s way.

Why would a dedication for an American law enforcement icon take place in Germany? The Forward Staging Area facility at Ramstein Air Base in Germany will be dedicated in his honor. Mr. O’Neill, who served as the on-scene commander for the FBI investigation of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, spent a considerable amount of time at Ramstein Air Base during deployment operations.

The dedication will coincide with the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) Rapid Deployment Team meeting at Ramstein Air Base during September 13-15. Approximately 30 FBI representatives will be present along with invited guests including members of Mr. O’Neill’s family.

In 2001, the FBI embarked upon a project to establish FSA facilities at strategic Department of Defense installations in Germany and Guam. These FSAs are integral to the mobilization of FBI assets in response to overseas terrorist incidents and other critical or sensitive operations. Construction of the facility located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany was completed and the FSA was activated for the Winter Olympics in February 2006.

In this same theme, CIRG will conduct a formal, on-site dedication ceremony for the Guam FSA in memory of FBI Special Agent Leonard Hatton who was also killed during the terrorist attack on 9/11. This dedication is scheduled for 2007.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said, “John O’Neill was the embodiment of fidelity, bravery, and integrity. He wore his FBI badge proudly and the American people were fortunate to have someone as tireless and loyal working for them. Dedicating this facility in his honor is just one small way we can remember John O’Neill.’

O’Neill served in a number of critical positions in the FBI prior to his retirement in August, 2001. He became an FBI agent in July, 1976. His first office was Baltimore where his investigative assignments included Foreign Counterintelligence, Organized Crime, and White-Collar crimes. From 1987-1991, he served in several positions within the Criminal Investigative Division and Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1991, he was the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. In 1994, Mr. O’Neill was designated Inspector in Charge of a multi-agency task force investigating domestic violence in the United States.

In January 1995 Mr. O’Neill was appointed Chief of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Section at FBI Headquarters where he was responsible for the direction and support of all of the FBI’s international and domestic counterterrorism investigations. Of particular note during this time, was the capture and extradition of bombing suspect Ramzi Yousef for his role in the first attack on the World Trade Center, the investigation of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the investigations of the bombings of U.S. facilities in Saudi Arabia. He also supervised investigations of numerous other terrorist incidents involving Americans and American interests around the world.

O’Neill served as the FBI representative on the Interagency Counterterrorism Committee of the National Security Council. He was also a member of the Terrorism Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Terrorism Subcommittee of the American Society of Industrial Security.

From January 1997 until his retirement in August 2001, he served as the Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Office overseeing all of the national security matters including counterterrorism operations. He was well-known within the FBI and throughout the law enforcement community worldwide. He was well-regarded for his insight, work ethic, passion, and aggressiveness as a terrorism fighter.

O’Neill faced political opposition from members of the Clinton Administration, who ignored his reports and warnings. On many occasions he was denied funding for his frequent trips to the Middle East to investigate leads on terrorist groups. On several trips, he paid for his own expenses — plane fare, hotel accommodations, etc. — in order to wage his one man war against terrorism.

Turf wars and dislike of O’Neill members of the Clinton Administration in Washington first meant that the FBI’s New York office was left out of the investigation, and later that O’Neill was left behind when other New York-based agents were sent to the region to pick up leads. O’Neill decided to continue fighting terrorism in the private sector.

After his retirement from the FBI, O’Neill took a position as Director of Security at the World Trade Center in New York City. He was on the job for just a few weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center claimed his life at age 49.

* * * *

Jim Kouri is fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s a former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. Kouri has appeared as on-air commentator for more than 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. Kouri’s own website is http://jimkouri.U.S.

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