Speaking at a Citizens Crime Commission breakfast on Thursday, Sweeney said gone are the days when suspects traveled overseas, received training and returned to try and carry out a plot.
“None of the stuff that used to tip us off — money movement, travel, travel patterns, calling patterns with overseas individuals — necessarily exists anymore,” he said. “Everything that you needed to do before to prepare yourself to be an operative for some group is obviously no longer the case, it’s all at your fingertips.”
Sweeney said radicalization is much more immediate thanks to the internet.
“All you have to do is watch these guys and look at some of the interviews and see the presence of that constant message, how it causes them to act rather quickly,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said investigators have been able to access terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov‘s phone, where they found hundreds of terror-related videos.
“I will say that we did not have the challenge that I thought we were going to have,” Sweeney said, who added that encryption has compromised nearly half the phones that are seized in investigations.
The 29-year-old Saipov is accused of driving a rented pickup truck down the West Side bike path, plowing into bicyclists and pedestrians for an entire mile before crashing into a school bus.
Investigators said Saipov was inspired by the videos on his phone and began plotting an attack about a year ago, deciding to use a truck two months before the attack.
Eight people were killed and 12 others injured.