Connecting the Dots: Fusion Centers Working with Higher Education to Combat Terrorism

The U.S. criminal justice community and much of the U.S. public recall that the horrific events of 9/11 were preceded by several of the al Qaeda–affiliated attackers’ attendance at flight schools across the United States. As early as 1998, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pilot reported that a large number of Middle Eastern men were in flight training in Oklahoma, and, in July 2001, a Phoenix-based agent requested to investigate the suspicious number of Middle Eastern individuals attending flight colleges after recognizing the significance and potential of using aircraft as vehicles for attacks.1

The fact that organized secondary educational institutions were the common denominator for several of the 9/11 terrorists caused law enforcement and the intelligence field to turn a keen eye to the college and university environment in an effort to “connect the dots” toward preventing future such assaults on the United States and its citizens.