July 8, 2014

FBI, Interpol Host Critical Infrastructure Symposium

Director Comey Addresses the Importance of Partnerships

FBI Director James Comey speaks at the International Law Enforcement Critical Infrastructure Symposium in Miami on July 7, 2014. Photo courtesy of Interpol.

FBI Director James Comey speaks at the International Law Enforcement Critical Infrastructure Symposium in Miami on July 7, 2014. Photo courtesy of Interpol.

FBI Director James Comey was in Miami yesterday, where he spoke at the opening of the four-day International Law Enforcement Critical Infrastructure Symposium. The event, co-hosted by the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate and Interpol, has drawn senior law enforcement officials from more than 90 countries to explore and share best practices for managing WMD and counterterrorism threats targeted against critical infrastructure and to identify common approaches to protect infrastructure and key resources.

Also participating in the symposium are domestic first responders, corporate security officers, and other U.S. federal partners.

“Today, critical infrastructure is all encompassing,” said Director Comey. “It is everything to our country and our world—our dams, our bridges, our highways, our networks,” he added, explaining that the threats we face to our interconnected systems—such as bioterrorism, agroterrorism, and sabotage—are as diverse as our infrastructure itself.

Comey cited examples of threats to infrastructure, to include the armed assault last April on a California power station, the 2008 attack in Mumbai in which gunmen opened fire at a number of locations, and last year’s deadly shootings at a Kenyan shopping mall. He also noted the ninth anniversary of the July 7, 2013 strikes by terrorists who bombed the London Underground and a double-decker bus in a series of coordinated suicide attacks.

“We know these threats are real,” Comey told the audience. “We must together figure out ways to protect our infrastructure, to work together to strengthen our response to a terrorist attack, a tragic accident, or a natural disaster.”

While touching on topics ranging from terrorism, cyber, and WMD threats to training, partnerships, and intelligence, Comey’s theme throughout underscored the importance of open communication and information sharing with our partners in the U.S. and abroad.

Interpol, as an international police organization, is an important partner on which the Bureau relies heavily to help combat threats of all types. The FBI, through its liaison with Interpol, is able to leverage 190 member countries to address challenges around the globe—a very important ability in a constantly evolving global threat environment.

Comey also highlighted the work of our WMD Directorate, each FBI field office’s WMD coordinator, and our two regional WMD assistant legal attachés in Tbilisi and Singapore. “They integrate our counterterrorism, intelligence, counterintelligence, scientific, and technological components and provide timely analysis of the threat and response,” Comey said. “The goal is to shrink the world to respond to the threat.”

The symposium provides the opportunity for participants to help work toward that goal. Through networking and discussions on how to coordinate and cooperate on critical infrastructure preparedness and protection efforts, attendees will strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones. By rallying the international community around defeating a common threat, our collective chances of success increase.

Director Comey said that our greatest weapon in this fight is unity, which is developed through intelligence sharing and interagency cooperation. “It is built on the idea that standing together, we are smarter and stronger than when we are standing alone,” he said. “Because no one person—no FBI agent, no police officer, no agency, and no country—can prevent or respond to an attack on critical infrastructure alone.”