Jim Kouri
9-11 hero John O'Neill: the counterterrorist who defied Washington elites
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
By Jim Kouri
September 10, 2010

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.

Each year on September 11, many police officers and security managers remember the contributions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counterterrorism Chief, the late John P. O'Neill. While the Clinton Administration slept during the terrorists' war against the United States, O'Neill did all he could to fight the radical Islamists who wished to place the American people in harm's way.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said, "John O'Neill was the embodiment of fidelity, bravery, and integrity. He wore his FBI badge proudly and the American people were fortunate to have someone as tireless and loyal working for them. Dedicating this facility in his honor is just one small way we can remember John O'Neill."

Mr. O'Neill served in a number of critical positions in the FBI prior to his retirement in August, 2001. He became an FBI agent in July, 1976. His first office was Baltimore where his investigative assignments included Foreign Counterintelligence, Organized Crime, and White-Collar crimes. From 1987-1991, he served in several positions within the Criminal Investigative Division and Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1991, he was the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Chicago Field Office. In 1994, Mr. O'Neill was designated Inspector in Charge of a multi-agency task force investigating domestic violence in the United States.

In January 1995 Mr. O'Neill was appointed Chief of the FBI's Counterterrorism Section at FBI Headquarters where he was responsible for the direction and support of all of the FBI's international and domestic counterterrorism investigations. Of particular note during this time, was the capture and extradition of bombing suspect Ramzi Yousef for his role in the first attack on the World Trade Center, the investigation of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the investigations of the bombings of U.S. facilities in Saudi Arabia. He also supervised investigations of numerous other terrorist incidents involving Americans and American interests around the world.

Mr. O'Neill served as the FBI representative on the Interagency Counterterrorism Committee of the National Security Council. He was also a member of the Terrorism Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Terrorism Subcommittee of the American Society for Industrial Security.

From January 1997 until his retirement in August 2001, he served as the Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's New York Office overseeing all of the national security matters including counterterrorism operations. He was well-known within the FBI and throughout the law enforcement community worldwide. He was well-regarded for his insight, work ethic, passion, and aggressiveness as a terrorism fighter.

O'Neill faced political opposition from members of the Clinton Administration, who ignored his reports and warnings. On many occasions he was denied funding for his frequent trips to the Middle East to investigate leads on terrorist groups. On several trips, he paid for his own expenses plane fare, hotel accommodations, etc. in order to wage his one man war against terrorism.

Turf wars and dislike of O'Neill by members of the Clinton Administration in Washington meant that the FBI's New York office was left out of the Middle East investigation, and later that O'Neill was left behind when other New York-based agents were sent to the region to pick up leads. O'Neill decided to continue fighting terrorism in the private sector.

After his retirement from the FBI, O'Neill took a position as Director of Security at the World Trade Center in New York City. He was on the job for just a few weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center claimed his life at age 49.

The law enforcement, intelligence and security communities lost a dedicated counterterrorist on September 11, 2001.

© Jim Kouri

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

Subscribe

Receive future articles by Jim Kouri: Click here

More by this author

September 10, 2017
Trump Justice: 'Dreamer' wanted for murder nabbed by feds in NJ and extradited


July 26, 2017
NJ 12-year-old's suicide a plea for cyber-bullying law: GOP candidate Heather Darling


June 12, 2017
Obama hampered law enforcement investigation of Iranian terrorism funding


June 2, 2017
Prez of Young Democrats and Mayor de Blasio staffer busted for kiddie porn; one victim 6-mos. old


May 29, 2017
The conservative approach to taxation and a healthy business climate


May 24, 2017
U.S. intelligence reports warn of cyber "Cold War"


March 3, 2017
Media attack Trump's terrorism expert Dr. Sebastian Gorka


December 23, 2016
Trump's border wall: The bill was passed and signed into law


December 22, 2016
Dem lawmakers demand commission to probe Trump-Russia conspiracy


December 14, 2016
Outraged Vets: VA hospital death touted as proof of Obama and Democrats indifference


More articles