ROCHESTER — U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was in Rochester on Tuesday to discuss his plan to understand the connection between social media and terror groups.
This discussion comes just days after a Rochester man, Emanuel Lutchman, was arrested and accused of planning a New Year’s Eve terror attack at a Rochester bar. Schumer has been updated about the case by the FBI.
Schumer emphasized that there is no credible threat of terrorism in the area right now, but he said people need to remain vigilant. Despite the fact that there have been two cases of Rochester residents allegedly being involved with the terrorist group Islamic State (or ISIS), Schumer says there is no reason to believe there are more, at least at this time.
The senator's legislation would allow law enforcement and the FBI to monitor social media accounts closer than ever before.
"We don't know what we're missing, until we've missed it," said Schumer. "We can't take that risk."
The senator says terrorist groups around the world are increasingly using social media to recruit and carry out attacks. "Today all it takes is the stroke of a few keys to pitch some disaffected, susceptible person here at home to get on board with terror," Schumer said.
That's why Schumer wants law enforcement to have the tools they need to better monitor social media accounts.
Messenger Post's news partner News 10NBC asked the senator if this would apply to everyone or only those who've shown an interest in terrorist groups like ISIS.
"Targeting doesn't really work; you have to find the people who are doing it," Schumer said, adding, "It has to be a broad net. You can't say, 'We'll just look at this group' because somebody else might pop up somewhere else."
Will law enforcement be responsible to monitor these accounts?
"Yes, law enforcement does that now," Schumer said." We just want them to do it better."
Investigators say local terror suspects Mufid Elfgeeh and Lutchman used social media to communicate with ISIS. Local counter-terrorism expert Mark Concordia directed News 10NBC to his Google Plus page where you can see dozens of posts and videos praising ISIS.
"He used these platforms to stream videos of the terror group and share recruitment clips designed to radicalize and call potential supporters to arms," says Schumer.
Rochester police and the FBI thwarted Lutchman's terror plot with the help of an informant. The bureau remains tight-lipped about their strategy but sent News 10NBC a statement saying in part: "The FBI has an obligation to take action to protect the public whenever an individual, irrespective of his economic or societal status, expresses a desire to commit violence."