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December 2023

SWAT operators prepare to roll out in Dallas for a pre-dawn operation targeting gang members and violent criminals. The FBI SWAT program this year marked 50 years since the first teams were assembled in 1973.  To learn more and hear remarks from some of the original SWAT team members, see our story below.

Message from the Assistant Director, Office of Public Affairs

Hello FBI Family,

As 2023 wraps up, I’ve been reflecting on what to tell all of you about the FBI’s work this year. But it’s hard deciding where toPublic Affairs Assistant Director Catherine Milhoan begin, because the effort and accomplishments I’ve seen and heard about across the country and around the world have made me prouder than ever to serve in the Bureau.

We’ve saved lives, thwarted threats, and built relationships with community partners. We’ve stopped cyber hackers, child predators, and violent criminals. And we’ve recruited the next generation of FBI employees to lead this organization long after we’re gone. We’ve all worked together to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution, and we’ve taken care of each other as equal members of the FBI Family in the process. Simply put, we’ve made the country and the world a much better place.

I also want to thank all of you for what you’ve done for the FBI this year. The support you’ve provided the Bureau by telling others about our mission and our work has done more good than you’ll realize. By all measures, our organization has the confidence and trust of the American people. Still, you can help us build that trust even more as we move into the new year by continuing to share what we do and by advocating for us whenever and however you feel comfortable.

Thank you again, and as always, if you have any feedback for us, please send us a note at

    Happy holidays,
    Cathy Milhoan

By the Numbers: CID in 2023

The below numbers are a part of Criminal Investigative Division’s (CID) overall efforts to address violent crime and include statistical accomplishments from the following programs: Violent Incident Crime, Gangs, Transnational Organized Crime and Crimes against Children.

Specifically, these numbers reflect collective actions against violent criminals, transnational criminal organizations, gang members and child predators between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023.

Arrests: 18,535
Indictments: 9,871
Child Locations: 2,401
Weapons Seized: 8,725
Disruptions: 2,524
Dismantlements: 314
Drug Seizures (individual instances): 12,766
Fentanyl Seized: 2,038 kilograms

In FY23 the FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, arrested over 18,500 violent criminals, drug traffickers, gang members and child predators. In the process, the FBI seized more than 8,720 guns from those criminals and cut into the capabilities of 2,520 gangs and violent criminal enterprises. Throughout the fiscal year, the FBI completely dismantled 314 of those criminal enterprises.

CID has over 580 unique task forces with over 5,200 members.

Violent Crime Blog

Message from the Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division

As the assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division (CTD), much of my attention the past few months has been focused on theRobert R. Wells, Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division ongoing Israel-HAMAS conflict – which stretches beyond the Middle East and has inspired terrorist attacks overseas, as well as threats within our communities in the U.S.

While the terrorism threat to the Homeland has remained heightened throughout 2023, the horrific attacks by HAMAS in Israel sparked an uptick in threats against individuals and institutions here at home. Since October, CTD has opened over 1,600 assessments across the country with a nexus to this conflict. We’ve disrupted violent extremists and lone offenders across the ideological spectrum who, influenced by these events, made violent threats and plotted potential terrorist attacks targeting Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities, as well as the U.S. government.

Our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, along with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners continue to track and mitigate these threats with an aggressive sense of urgency. From Headquarters, we are actively assessing our domestic threat environment according to the fluid and evolving situation overseas. We’re also leaning forward on outreach efforts to our private sector, academic, and faith-based community partners to keep them informed about the threat and the ways we can work together to keep our communities safe.

As part of the FBI family, I want to assure you we are doing everything we can to stay ahead of these threats. I ask that if you identify opportunities where we could do more or communicate better, that you reach out to your local SAC or give me a call directly.

Bobby Wells
Counterterrorism Division


FBI, HSI Investigation Leads to Historic War Crimes Indictment 

Director Wray joined Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and other federal officials during a Dec. 6 press conference announcing the first-ever charges under the War Crimes Act of 1996 against four Russian-affiliated soldiers who allegedly violated the human rights of an American residing in Ukraine amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.

Learn more
Paul Abbate, right, deputy director of the FBI, and Kevin Liles, chairman and CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment, are seen during a panel called "Building Bridges with the African American Community" at the 2023 Beacon Conference.

Paul Abbate, right, deputy director of the FBI, and Kevin Liles, chairman and CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment, are seen during a panel called "Building Bridges with the African American Community" at the 2023 Beacon Conference.

'Building Bridges' With HBCUs

The FBI and leaders of more than half of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) met in Baltimore to cultivate and nourish relationships as part of the ongoing Beacon Initiative.

Learn More

In Case You Missed It

As the FBI's SWAT program marks 50 years, retired operators, including some on the original Spider One teams in 1973, recently shared their recollections of the tactical program's early days. 

View story

This series features stories, images, and videos produced by the team that manages


FBI and Partners Pay It Forward Every Holiday Season

Family of Officer Tamarris Bohannon at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Family members of Officer Tamarris Bohannon help pack food boxes at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer was killed in the line of duty in 2020.

The USDA says one in five children in the U.S. are unsure as to where they will get their next meal. Add to that number seniors citizens, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations, and the numbers run into the hundreds of thousands of American families who are struggling every day.

FBI St. Louis and its partners have a long history of helping fill that gap. Every year for more than a decade, FBI St. Louis employees joined the "Feds Feed Families" program to support Operation Food Search in Missouri and Illinois. Each year, this food bank distributes more than 30 million dollars worth of food and personal care items to 330 food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters in 27 counties.

This year, the employees in this office alone were able to collect more than 400 pounds of food. All totaled, federal employees across the country have donated more than 10 million pounds of food in 2023.

FBI St. Louis thanks partners in the Citizens Academy Alumni Association for organizing the Bohannon's Family food drive.

FBI St. Louis thanks partners in the Citizens Academy Alumni Association for organizing the Bohannon's Family food drive.

This is not the first time FBI St. Louis and its partners have helped to support the community. For Thanksgiving 2020, the FBI St. Louis Citizens Academy Alumni Association (FBISTLCAAA) organized a canned food drive with help from law enforcement and other partners to collect donations at nearly 50 locations. In one week, they collected a total of 12,721 pounds of food and personal care items, along with more than $1,800 in cash to donate to the St. Louis Area Food Bank. The food drive was in memory of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Tamarris Bohannon, 29, who was killed in the line of duty just a few months earlier.

Officer Tamarris Bohannon's son helps pack food boxes at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

A member of Officer Bohannon's family helps pack food boxes at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Officer Bohannon left behind a wife and three young children. He was the first member of the SLMPD to be killed in the line of duty since 2011. When the FBISTLCAAA contacted Officer Bohannon's widow to offer support, her only request was to honor her husband with this food drive. 

On the day before Thanksgiving that year, Officer Bohannon’s family and FBISTCAAA board members packed food boxes at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. In the end, all the partners were proud to support the Bohannon family and provide access to food and other supplies to feed more than 17,500 vulnerable people in the community for whom Officer Bohannon gave his all.

As we celebrate the holidays this December, FBI employees across the country take part in similar efforts to support our shared community.

Bomb Technicians: Ready for Crisis

Two public safety bomb technicians communicate during a training exercise at the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School.

Two public safety bomb technicians communicate during a training exercise at the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School.

Mass casualty events, including active shooters, continue to increase in the United States. Every law enforcement officer knows that on any day, they may be the first responder on the scene of a crisis event. Amid the chaos, they must stay focused and rely on their training to save lives during these tragedies.

As more of these crises involve explosive hazards, the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School (HDS) is taking steps to ensure all U.S. Public Safety Bomb Technicians (PSBT) are prepared to respond. These technicians include law enforcement partners from federal, state and local agencies.

At HDS’s Crisis Response Training (CRT), seasoned bomb technicians are immersed into the most stressful learning environment possible. During live crisis scenarios, participants are subjected to simulated rounds, victim’s cries and screams for help, and a bomb ticking toward detonation. The technicians draw on their knowledge and experience to make difficult decisions during high-stress situations.

“This training gives bomb technicians a peek behind the curtain, like the Wizard of Oz,” said Unit Chief Jay Henze of the HDS in Huntsville, Alabama. “They may think they have a capability they can execute, but when they are tested under pressure, and the curtain is pulled back, their true capability is revealed.” 

Training Bomb Technicians

PSBTs are trained and certified in Huntsville, at HDS—the U.S. government’s sole certifying, recertifying and accreditation school for all public safety bomb technicians and bomb squads. The HDS falls within the Critical Incident Response Group’s (CIRG) Counter Improvised Explosive Device Section (CIEDS). While at HDS, bomb technicians first complete a six-week training course to become certified as bomb technicians.

Per the National Guidelines for Bomb Technicians, they are required to return to HDS every three years to recertify their core skills. Once bomb technicians have experience in the field, they can return to HDS for advanced training opportunities, such as CRT, to expand their expertise and test their knowledge.

CRT prepares PSBTs to step into an emerging critical incident while taking steps to protect lives. During the weeklong training, bomb technicians are challenged technically, mentally and physically in the classroom and through practical exercises.

CRT students receive no syllabus or agenda and do not know what to expect each day of the training. They receive instruction on relevant topics and must work through timed, high-risk scenarios. During exercises, students are exposed to explosives, pulsing music and simulated live fire to increase their adrenaline and hinder their ability to think.

“It is learning through stress inoculation,” said Tony Smith, instructor with CRT and a 23-year PSBT. “As they experience it, they learn to understand and deal with it.” Henze believes the immersive training will help save lives.

“This training gives bomb technicians a peek behind the curtain, like the Wizard of Oz.”

Jay Henze, unit chief, Hazardous Devices School
Using tools, tactics and procedures learned during his training, a bomb technician makes the decision to cut wires to further the render safe process on a simulated explosive device.

Using tools, tactics and procedures learned during his training, a bomb technician makes the decision to cut wires to further the render safe process on a simulated explosive device.

SWAT and Bomb Technicians

CRT was developed by FBI Special Agent Bomb Technicians (SABT) who were also trained as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) operators. Henze was one of those SABTs.

Within the law enforcement community, SWAT teams are made up of officers and agents trained to handle high-risk and high-threat situations. These teams are capable of negotiating danger when executing search warrants, dealing with barricaded suspects and hostage situations.

Tactical Bomb Technicians are certified bomb technicians who are also trained and certified as SWAT team members. They move and respond like SWAT operators but have the skills and training to address explosive devices—an added responsibility in an already stressful situation. Within the FBI, they are called Tactical Special Agent Bomb Technicians (TSABT).

“Working on SWAT as a tactical bomb technician is intense and requires ongoing training,” said Henze, who was a TSABT and helped develop HDS’s curriculum for the program. SWAT is stressful and unpredictable work, and “it is not for everyone,” he added.

Henze knew there was value in sharing tactical bomb technician tactics and best practices with non-SWAT bomb technicians. 

“Bomb technicians can easily find themselves responding to an active shooter event. Knowing what to look for and how to respond can save lives,” said Henze. “We believed we could do something to bridge the knowledge gap between PSBTs and tactical bomb technicians.”

What First? 

Bomb technicians typically work in teams of two or more and have a box truck filled with diagnostic tools and equipment to assess and address any potential threat items. However, during CRT, bomb technicians must respond to scenarios with only the kit they carry on them, as this would be the case if they happened upon an emerging crisis. This is a drastic change from their normal protocol.

CRT is designed to be as realistic as possible, citing previous real-life crisis events to reinforce learning points. For example, victims may be screaming, bleeding or unconscious during a scenario. Trip wires or a suspicious package may be present. Guns and explosives may sound. A bomb technician’s priority comes into question; what do they address first?

“Our natural instinct is to want to help people,” said Smith. “But we must be in a safe environment first. If there is still a shooter or a bomb ticking down, no one is safe.” This can be a difficult shift in the mindset of a bomb technician. 

During an emerging crisis, “Their first and sole responsibility is to find and eliminate the human threat [shooter]. Next, they check for suspicious bags or potential explosive threats. Then, they can shift their attention to victims,” said Smith.

“Our natural instinct is to want to help people. But we must be in a safe environment first.”

Tony Smith, instructor, Crisis Response Training
Public safety bomb technicians continue their threat assessment during a training exercise.

Public safety bomb technicians continue their threat assessment during a training exercise.

We All Fail

Bomb technicians receive training on diagnostic tools and techniques during CRT that enable them to quickly evaluate an explosive device.

Hand-entry techniques or detonator diagnostics on bombs are risky. Students improve their use of portable multimeters to test the bomb’s wires and determine which wire to cut. In life threatening situations, such as a hostage wearing a vest with explosives, these techniques are a last option.

“This is a complex process with high consequences,” said Matt Osborne, instructor for HDS’s electronics program and a bomb technician for 21 years. “Bomb makers design circuits to kill you. And you are attaching another electronic device to the bomb to try to diagnose it and not have it kill you. You cannot wing this.”

Even small tasks, like taping and organizing wires as they are tested, are important. “If I get taken out by a shooter while trying to diagnose a bomb, it needs to make sense to the bomb tech who comes in behind me,” said Osborne.

Failing is part of the training. During CRT, bomb technicians may test what they believe is a good path and then must work with the results. They are challenged to think “outside the box,” to never be set on a specific course of action, and to know when to adjust their plan.

“There is no black or white answer on how to approach a device or a crisis situation,” said Smith. “We live in a world of greys.”

Peers as Teachers

CRT is facilitated at HDS by FBI, state and local bomb technicians as adjunct instructors, providing students current field perspectives. Approximately 16 instructors teach and participate in each class, made up of 12 students. The teacher/student ratio allows for one-on-one knowledge sharing during the week.

“In the field, bomb squads are made up of technicians from different offices and agencies. It makes sense that we train that way as well,” said Henze. “After the training, instructors will be back in uniform on the job. Students may even work a call with them one day. That connection is another great benefit of CRT.”

The instructors are not there to “catch” students or have “gotcha” moments. The scenarios that students participate in are intended to be realistic and represent potential encounters. Bomb technicians build on existing skills, improve their confidence and learn new techniques that help them respond during a crisis event.

During the training, some bomb technicians question their ability to do the job. This self-reflection shows the training is working.

“This training pushes them down and we bring them back up. It gives them a good picture of what they need to do the job and what they need to work on,” said Henze.

Since its inception in 2021, over 100 federal, state and local PSBT have attended CRT with many participants stating it is the best training they have ever received.

“I am waiting for the day when I get a call from a student who says that what they learned from our instructors saved their team and other lives,” said Henze.

2023 Holiday Shopping Scams

Warnings and Practical Advice From the Bureau's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The FBI warns of criminals targeting online shoppers and sellers during the upcoming holiday season. During the 2022 holiday shopping season, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received reports from almost 12,000 victims reporting non-payment/non-delivery scams, resulting in losses over $73 million. Criminals use a multitude of methods to entice and target victims intending to purchase or sell an item online.

Buyers Be Aware!

  • E-mails advertising hot-ticket or hard to find items, such as event tickets or gaming systems, that aren't from a legitimate source.
  • Untrusted websites and social media ads promoting unrealistic discounts and bargains for brand-name items.
  • Social media posts, often appearing to have been shared by a known friend, offering vouchers, gift cards, freebies, and contests.
  • Online surveys designed to steal personal information.
  • Advertisements for pets from sellers who are unable to confirm through in-person visits, video chat, etc. that the pet is real. Often, additional money is requested for various reasons that were not initially disclosed. After funds are sent, the pet never arrives.
  • Online retailers who use a free email service instead of a company email address.
  • Sellers posting online under one name but requesting funds to be sent to another individual, or any seller claiming to be inside the country but requesting funds to be sent to another country.
  • Sellers who request payments through online payment methods that are not protected by the transfer company.
  • Buyers signed up for a subscription or renewal service that wasn't advertised as part of the initial purchase. Read the fine print, know the company's return/exchange policy, ensure the purchase is clearly defined and understood, and monitor financial statements for any unauthorized charges.

Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3 Seal

Seller, Stay Alert!

  • Buyers who are overly eager and need the gift shipped immediately, pressuring the seller to ship the item.
  • E-mails purporting to be from an online money transfer company claiming the funds have been sent by the buyer, without verification that funds have been received in the seller's account.
  • Buyers who overpay for an item and want the difference sent to a third party.
    Buyers who receive the merchandise and ask for a refund, but do not send the original merchandise back. The merchandise sent back to secure the refund is typically something of lesser value, or nothing at all.
  • E-mails purporting to be from an online money transfer company claiming the seller must upgrade their account to a "business account" by accepting or transferring an additional amount of money.
  • Buyers who want the items shipped before they will send payment.
  • Buyers who use one name when communicating and use another name or business name for payment purposes.

General Tips to Protect Yourself When Buying and Selling Online

  • Verify the websites utilized to purchase and sell items. Web addresses should begin with https:// and include a locked padlock icon.
  • Do not judge a company solely by their website as flashy websites can be set up and taken down quickly. Use other methods to verify credentials.
  • Be wary of online transactions that use payment methods such as wire transfers, virtual currency, gift cards, or cash.
  • Pay for items using a credit card dedicated for online purchases, check the card statement regularly, and never save payment information in online accounts.
  • Limit the use of public Wi-Fi, if possible.
  • Verify the legitimacy of all parties involved by looking at consumer reviews and social media pages, as well as checking with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do not click on links in an unsolicited email or provide personal or financial information.
  • Make sure anti-virus/malware software is up to date and block pop-up windows.
  • Use safe passwords or pass phrases. Never use the same password on multiple accounts.
    As always - if the deal sounds too good to be true, whether you are buying or selling an item online, chances are it is a scam.

If You Are a Victim
If you are a victim of a fraud, the FBI recommends taking the following actions:

  • Report to the FBI IC3 at as quickly as possible.
  • Report the activity to the online payment service used for the financial transaction.
  • Contact your financial institution immediately to stop or reverse the transaction. Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.

LEB Spotlight: Facing the Talent Crisis in Law Enforcement (Part 1)

The three-part “Facing the Talent Crisis in Law Enforcement” series provides a valid and reliable coaching model for agencies to follow.

This first article focuses on coaching to solve problems. It will explain the basic steps of the 4P’s Coaching Model: problem, present state, possible future state, and plan. Using a realistic composite case study extracted from our experience teaching numerous law enforcement officers, we will demonstrate how effective leaders employ this process by asking questions, not giving commands or advice. While we have found that all generations like this approach, millennials and Gen Zs, particularly, appreciate its inclusivity.

Learn more in the Law Enforcement Bulletin | LEB Website


UFOs and the Guy Hottel Memo

It's one of the most popular files in the FBI Vault—the Bureau's electronic reading room housing various Bureau records released under the Freedom of Information Act. Yet, it is only a single page, relaying an unconfirmed report that the FBI never even followed up on.

The file in question is a memo dated March 22, 1950—63 years ago last week. It was authored by Guy Hottel, then head of our field office in Washington, D.C. (see sidebar below for a brief biography). Like all memos to FBI Headquarters at that time, it was addressed to Director J. Edgar Hoover and recorded and indexed in FBI records.

Learn More | Memo

Protect Yourself: Winter Weather

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms including blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds.

Learn how to protect yourself from winter weather at

Speaking of winter weather, the image depicted here is called "Central Park in Snow With Pigeons," an oil-on-canvas painting that is among thousands in the FBI's National Stolen Art File, a database of stolen art and cultural property containing objects submitted by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.   

Image in the National Stolen Art File

Stay in the Loop

You can follow @FBI on X (Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram to stay up to date on the Bureau's latest news and stories. 

FBI X Post on December 7, 2023

The FBI Alumni E-Brief is distributed through our alumni and family organizations. These groups share it through their membership lists, we do not maintain an individual email list. Currently, the groups receiving the AEB are:

  • The Society of FBI Alumni 
  • Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
  • FBI Agents Association
  • FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association
  • FBI National Academy Associates
  • FBI National Executive Institute Associates
  • InfraGard
  • Not a member of one of these organizations? The AEB is on Facebook: FBI-Federal Bureau of Investigation Family (Current/Retired) 

If you are aware of another group to assist in sharing this AEB with the FBI family, please let us know. You can also send content suggestions, photo or story submissions, as well as critiques to