MINNEAPOLIS — A city that’s spawned a surprising number of terror suspects 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.”
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.”