Super Bowl city was home to dozens of ISIS, other terror suspects

MINNEAPOLIS — A city that's spawned a surprising number of terror suspect is hosting this year's Super Bowl, but local law enforcement officials say they're ready to protect Sunday's big game.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has been home to the third highest number of terror prosecutions in the U.S. since 9/11, behind only the much larger metropolitan regions of New York and Washington, D.C. Twelve Twin Cities residents have been charged with providing support to ISIS and 20 have been arrested for alleged support of the Somali terror group al Shabab in the past nine years. Between 2011 and 2014, 13 locals died fighting for al Shabab and ISIS, according to U.S intelligence officials.

ISIS has continually called for attacks on large-scale events and the possibility of someone hearing those calls is not lost on the FBI's Joe Rivers, who's in charge of terrorism investigations in Minneapolis.

Rivers says the FBI and local law enforcement are more concerned about the potential for lone wolves to attack with a vehicle or a firearm than a sophisticated operation. "I think we're more worried about the fact that an individual is inspired to potentially do something," said Rivers, "and that they find the means and the mechanisms to go ahead and do that either on their own or with very little help."

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Minneapolis prepares to host Super Bowl LII
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Minneapolis prepares to host Super Bowl LII
Jan 31, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; General overall view of NFL official Wilson football at U.S. Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; General overall view of U.S. Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 2: Workers move Patriot and NFL props before a rehearsal at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN during the lead-up to Super Bowl LII, where the New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles, on Feb. 2, 2018. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: A General View inside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: A General View inside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: A General View inside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: George Toma NFL Groundskeeper tends Super Bowl for 52nd consecutive year is interviewed inside of US Bank Stadium on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
U.S. Bank Stadium, venue of this year's Super Bowl, as seen from a Department of Homeland Security Blackhawk helicopter that will be patrolling the skies during the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A Viking ship sits in front of US Bank Stadium, home to this weekend's Super Bowl, in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A journalist walks down the steps inside US Bank Stadium during a media preview for this weekend's Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Men looking at their phones stand beneath the transparent roof of US Bank Stadium during a media preview for this weekend's Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A worker inside US Bank Stadium prepares seats for this weekend's Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - DECEMBER 27, 2017: DigitalGlobe satellite image downtown Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium - home to Super Bowl LII. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 29: General view of the U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl LII on December 29, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is home to a large Somali population and is near US Bank Stadium, the site of the NFL's Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 19, 2018. Picture taken January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Craig Lassig
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 29: General view of the U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl LII on December 29, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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To prepare and respond to any potential incident the FBI says it has brought in 200 extra agents who are a part of 1,000 federal agents from multiple agencies composing the largest deployment in Super Bowl history. Minneapolis and other nearby police departments will add nearly 1,000 extra officers, for a total uniformed presence of 2,000.

The game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles kicks off at about 6:30 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, and features halftime performances by Justin Timberlake and Pink. The venue holds nearly 67,000 people.

Minneapolis Police Commander Scott Gerlicher, who is in charge of the city's Super Bowl security operation says, "There are no credible threats currently to the Super Bowl or any activities but there's a large group of people who are looking at that and monitoring that hour by hour."

One of the tactics for thwarting any would-be terrorist, say law enforcement officials, is creating secure perimeters for the stadium and other public event spaces, and positioning Humvee-style trucks to prevent vehicle attacks.

Around the city and at Super Bowl events, said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Brandon Grant, state, local and federal bomb squad teams from across the region and the country are ready to respond to any suspicious package. Grant said that the teams have brought in 16 small x-ray devices, worth over $35,000 each, to deploy with technicians - the largest-ever such deployment of the technology.

The devices are designed to quickly scan a suspicious bag or item and produce an image of the contents on a handheld tablet. Grant said the compact size of the x-ray kits means technicians can hand-carry them in a crowd and get an image 10 times faster than older devices.

If someone simply forgot a bag in the crowd of thousands, said Grant, the bomb techs can address it and "just move on."

In the air, the FBI will use Blackhawk helicopters equipped with infrared cameras to surveil key Super Bowl sites. The Blackhawks can also be used to move heavily armed agents to any potential attack site, or to evacuate injured people to local hospitals or triage centers.

The FBI says it isn't disclosing where the armed teams are situated but says they will be on standby leading up to and during the big game to respond to any crisis.

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