March 2, 2015 -
The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS), which houses the Biometric Center of Excellence, played a large role in helping the Department of Defense identify a notorious Islamic State terrorist, according to a report by Defense One.
Both the Washington Post and the BBC publically identified Mohammed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John,” as the Islamic State masked frontman who gruesomely executed at least five hostages on camera.
Though the FBI has neither confirmed nor denied the identity of Jihadi John, FBI director James Comey recently said that the agency knew John’s identity.
Launched in 2007, the CJIS has played an integral role in making use of all the biometric data collected by the FBI, which includes fingerprints, images, and phone messages that have been sent to the FBI.
“Bottom line for us … if any of our divisions, whether it be our counterterrorism division, our criminal division, if at any time during their investigations they develop biometrics … they submit it through our system,” Stephen L. Morris, assistant director of the CJIS, told Defense One at a recent conference in Washington.
“I’m not going to tell you how we did it,” Morris said in regards to identifying Jihadi John. “You have to have something to search … you can have images with faces but if you’re not capturing it in the right way, if there’s not data in that image to make a comparison, it’s just not useful.”
The FBI’s Next Generation Identification system stores hundreds of thousands of photos, aliases, physical characteristics and, of course, fingerprints.
The system is also completely interoperable with the military’s Automated Biometric Identification System, as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s Automated Biometric Identification System.
Additionally, the NGI works with State Department and many global law enforcement agencies. The FBI and Britain’s MI5 collaborated to successfully identify Jobn.
Previously reported, the FBI digitally converted millions of files stored at its Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division’s warehouse in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Bureau prepares to transition to its new biometric system.