"The Current Terrorism Threat Facing the United States”
George L. Piro (FBI's Miami Division)
FBI special agent George L. Piro told students during a talk on February 16, 2016, that his agency – which once sought to hire college graduates fluent in Arabic or Chinese – now seeks computer-science grads or IT specialists to counter the terrorist threat online.
The terrorist organization ISIS operates more than 50,000 Twitter accounts and has used social media to recruit some 31,000 foreign fighters, according to Piro, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami division.
"We are confronting the explosion of terrorist propaganda on the internet," Piro said. "'Come or kill' is the message ... Come to the caliphate. If you can't come, kill wherever you are ... Unfortunately, that does resonate with some troubled souls."
Piro called counterterrorism the top priority of an agency tasked with investigating more than 250 violations. He said the FBI has disrupted 74 terror plots in the last two years, often working with agencies outside the United States.
"The FBI is continually working around the world to prevent another tragic event," he said.
Piro, who was appointed to his current post by FBI Director James B. Corney in Jan. 2014, told students he participated in the seven-month interrogation of Saddam Hussein in advance of the 2003 trial that led to the former Iraqi leader's death sentence. Piro noted that the FBI does not use torture against any suspects to obtain information.
"It goes against the core values of the FBI," Piro said. "We haven't and will never torture."
During a question-and-answer session after Piro's talk, student Jacob Goldman '17 followed up on the claim, asking whether the FBI ever hands over stubborn defendants to other government agencies that utilize methods of torture.
"The FBI does not turn over its detainees or suspects to other agencies," Piro responded. "We are very confident in our abilities with regard to interviewing. It's an art ... We have found more people are willing to talk to you if you are nice. We are nicer than other agencies. We use our charms, good looks, personalities, sense of humor versus waterboarding or any of those techniques."
Added Piro: "With Saddam, we got everything we needed to know in five months."
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.