Counter-Terrorism After 9/11—An interview with Dr. Frank Straub, Director of the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies at the National Police Foundation
Reprinted with permission from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) – The Hague
Twenty years ago, Frank Straub was a first responder on the scene of the attacks in lower Manhattan. Looking back, we go through his experience of the day and his perspective on how counter-terrorism in policing changed after the attacks. Interviewing him is Dr. Joana Cook, an ICCT Senior Project Manager and Editor-in-Chief of the ICCT Journal.
JOANA COOK: Dr. Straub, thanks for joining us today. Can you please introduce yourself to our audience?
FRANK STRAUB: I’m the director of the National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies. I joined NPF approximately five and a half years ago, after spending thirty years in federal, state and local law enforcement in the United States. Early in my career, I worked in the counter-terrorism, counter-extremism space with the US State Department, and the US Naval Investigative Service. I left and then joined the US Department of Justice Inspector General’s office with the intent of working on public corruption cases. In 1993, when the first attack on the World Trade Centre happened, I ended up becoming involved in that investigation as a result of an individual that we had arrested on bribery charges.
About two weeks after the 9/11 attack, I joined the NYPD as the Deputy Commissioner of Training. I served in that position for about six months and then I was asked to help stand up the counter-terrorism division in the New York City Police Department. After doing that, I went up to a small community about thirty miles north of New York, where I was the Public Safety Commissioner and was there for about nine years and then left and went out to Indianapolis, Indiana, as the Public Safety Director for the city, and then out to Spokane, Washington, where I was the Police Chief. I then joined the National Police Foundation.
COOK: Where were you on the morning of 9/11? What do you remember from that day?
STRAUB: I was working about six blocks south of the World Trade Centre complex. While I was in the elevator, I felt the building shake. I got down to the ground floor and went outside and everybody was looking at the World Trade Centre. I looked up at it, it was an absolutely crystal clear day, and it was clear that a rather large aircraft had hit the tower. From my perspective, it was impossible that it was an accident for a plane, a commercial aircraft, to hit that building. [Based on] my work in the 1993 case, and my work in the Terrorism Task Force, I concluded pretty quickly that this was an intentional attack.