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Local Terrorism Expert Says Alleged Attack Represents Growing ISIL Influence


Local counter-terrorism expert says ISIL's growing influence could be responsible for the alleged planned New Years Eve attack in Rochester.

Mark Concordia teaches Criminal Justice at Roberts Wesleyan College. He used to work with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, the same task force that thwarted the alleged plan.

"The public has no idea what it's like working these cases. They completely consume your life. Family obligations, free time, gives way to 24-7 surveillance, late nights, coordinated phone calls and frustrations."

Those efforts led to the arrest of 25-year-old Emanuel Lutchman. He was arraigned in closed court, accused of helping to plan an ISIL-related terrorist attack on an undisclosed restaurant in the Rochester area.

Lutchman is a US citizen who lives in Rochester, which Concordia says is indicative of just how powerful the reach of ISIL has become.

"No community at this point is safe in terms of the reach of ISIL through its social media campaign and its strategies that have proven to be highly effective."

Concordia says ISIL's message is that if you cannot travel to Syria or other conflict zones, then you should "attack in place."

Concordia says the FBI and other agencies work on multiple levels to stop these kinds of attacks, from intercepting communications to using confidential informants. But the greatest asset to these investigations, Concordia says, is a close community that is dedicated to ending the violence. He says individuals on the path to violence are most recognizable to those closest to them.

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.