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New chief of the Buffalo FBI office has wide experience fighting terrorism

Adam S. Cohen, who recently became special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Buffalo, appears to be the right man for the job at a time when security concerns are once again paramount.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have put this nation on edge. They certainly have raised the volume on the national and local debate over acceptance of refugees, particularly those from Syria. Our nation’s borders, and the relative ease with which non-citizens can cross them, remain a political and practical concern. Buffalo’s proximity to Canada may make us more vulnerable to those wishing to do us harm. Of course, terrorism can grow from roots in our own country. Remember the Lackawanna Six?

Today, terrorists have turned to the Internet to spread their message of evil. From lone wolves to cells bent on spreading terror on peaceful streets, the threat is real.

That makes Cohen a good fit for the Buffalo FBI. The Brooklyn native has a deep history working in counterterrorism for the FBI. As News staff reporter Phil Fairbanks detailed, Cohen had already gained a reputation for his work breaking up the millennium bomb plot when the twin towers of the World Trade Center were felled by terrorists.

“I watched the buildings in my own city come down on a TV set at the embassy in Algiers,” he said. “I had no idea if any of my friends or co-workers were killed. It was just horrible.”

The millennium plot was an attempt to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium. Ringleader Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national living in Montreal, was arrested trying to cross the U.S. border in the state of Washington. Ressam, who had trained with Islamic terrorists, was sent to prison.

Cohen, horrified at the slaughter of nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, returned home from Algeria and quickly applied his skills to searching for the identities of the hijackers and planners.

Cohen was promoted to the International Terrorism Operations Section at FBI Headquarters and helped break up a 2004 al-Qaida plot to plant bombs in Britain.

But he did not stop there. He developed critical Internet skills to track how terrorists are using the Web and social media to communicate and plan.

Welcome to Buffalo, SAC Cohen.