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Tipsheet

Brooklyn Subway Attack Suspect Has Been Arrested

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Frank R. James, the 62-year-old suspect in the Brooklyn subway attack, has been taken in by authorities, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. James was arrested in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood according to anonymous law enforcement officials who could not provide more information. James had been upgraded to a suspect earlier on Wednesday. Mayor Eric Adams (D) confirmed the arrest, declaring "we got him" at a Wednesday press conference and in a tweet. 

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On Tuesday morning, Spencer reported on the Brooklyn subway attack at the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, which left 16 people injured, including 10 people who were shot and five in critical condition. None faced life-threatening injuries.

While it's incredibly fortunate that there were no casualties, the story is nevertheless frustrating, especially since James was known to the FBI and was cleared in 2019, as Matt highlighted

According to a Newsweek report from Emma Mayer, James was known to the FBI but cleared after multiple interviews: 

Jeremiah Fowler, a cybersecurity researcher with Security Discovery told Newsweek, "They identified this person somehow as a potential threat. They opened the case, interviewed him, and determined that he wasn't a threat, and he slipped through the cracks. That's probably the best way to describe it." 

...

Once a person is on the FBI's watchlist, he or she can be denied boarding on an airplane or getting a U.S. visa, when applicable. However, a person on the FBI's watchlist can still purchase a gun or firearm, Insider stated.

Fowler said that in James' case, the FBI most likely "received a tip, or an informant heard something, or they flagged him in digital communications."

...

Fowler summarized that more than likely, when James was interviewed in 2019, "There was no evidence of a crime so they couldn't prosecute him, or they couldn't bring a case against him."

Getting off the FBI watchlist is a different endeavor. Simply put, a person cannot be removed completely from the watchlist, but they remain under the radar. Fowler said, "Once that case file has been opened, that intelligence community probably keeps that on you for either forever or a very long time."

The active investigation on James was closed in 2019, and while he most likely remained on the FBI's watchlist, he was no longer a priority when they deemed him not a viable threat at the time.

"They can't actively investigate people forever. It has to have a timeline, especially if it doesn't meet probable calls for an actual crime," Fowler said.

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James' social media presence, including YouTube videos, expressed racist, Black Nationalist views. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell referred to the posts as "concerning," according to AP, especially since James makes reference to Mayor Adams, who, like James, is Black. 

These videos aren't ancient history, either. As the AP report continues to note: 

Several of James’ videos mention New York’s subways. A Feb. 20 video says the mayor and governor’s plan to address homelessness and safety in the subway system “is doomed for failure” and refers to himself as a “victim” of the city’s mental health programs. A Jan. 25 video criticizes Adams’ plan to end gun violence.

While James' videos were ultimately removed from YouTube, he had been posting content and espousing his racist views for years. It's worth reminding that YouTube has had no problem swiftly punishing conservatives for what the platform deems to be in violation of its standards on COVID-19, such as Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rand Paul (R-KY), or on the 2020 election, including the RNC for a video with former President Donald Trump and election integrity expert Cleta Mitchell

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