“There was one here in New Orleans. Never made the papers,” said Jim Bernazzani, the former Special Agent in Charge for the FBI office in New Orleans.
Bernazzani spent 24 years working to fight terrorism. He didn’t give too many specifics on the terror cell that was identified and neutralized in New Orleans, but he said the suspects did a pretty good job of blending in.
“They were affiliates of a terror organization. They were undercover as students at local area universities,” he said.
Investigative work helped crack the New Orleans case. Bernazzani says beating terrorism also required help from everyday people. It’s the kind of help police and FBI agents in Boston received Friday when someone noticed blood on a boat in storage. The person called police who found the second Boston Marathon suspect hiding under the boat’s cover.
Bernazzani says going into Friday night’s search, FBI agents wanted to make sure nobody else got hurt by the suspects. But he says agents also had one more important marching order.
“Take this guy alive, the 19-year-old. He is a treasure trove of intelligence.”
That’s exactly what happened, and the second suspect, at last word, was undergoing treatment at a Boston hospital.
Bernazzani says, even the smallest detail could provide a big break for police. He says it could be the missing piece of a puzzle that’s already being worked.
“If you get that missing piece, then good people win.”