Former Obama FBI Official Opens Up On Terror Watch List During Obama Admin

By Robert Cunningham, updated on February 21, 2024

A troubling surge in border security threats was unveiled.

Former FBI officer alarms over surge in terrorists at U.S. Southern border.

In a sobering disclosure, Tim Healy, the former FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center chief during President Obama's tenure, has voiced stark apprehensions over a distressing spike in the number of known or suspected terrorists detected at the southern U.S. border.

The figures have swelled from a modest count in previous years to an alarming 336. This uptick has raised questions about border security efficacy and given Healy considerable unease about the potential threats these individuals could pose to national safety.

The Stark Contrast in Terrorist Encounters Over the Years

The southern border of the United States has seen a significant rise in the interception of individuals flagged as potential threats. While in the fiscal years stretching from 2017 to 2020, agents encountered a mere 14 known or suspected terrorists, the past three years have seen this number escalate to 336. Such a surge is undeniably indicative of an increasingly perilous border situation that begs for immediate attention.

Healy, with his extensive background in managing terrorist threats, has drawn a stark comparison between the past and present numbers. His expertise lends credence to the seriousness of the current statistics.

The "gold program," a briefing protocol established under Healy's direction, used to identify 12 to 24 individuals of interest annually, highlighting the gravity of the recent figures.

Healy's Sleepless Nights and Heightened Concerns

Healy's concerns are rooted in the significant increase in the number of known or suspected terrorists encountered at the border—a drastic change from his time at the FBI. The numbers reported by him do not even account for the "gotaways," those who have escaped detection, further compounding the potential threat.

In his interview on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” Healy expressed the anxiety the current situation has caused him. He stated:

[F]rom my perspective at the Terrorist Screening Center, the last three years, you’ve had 336 known or suspected terrorists arrested between entry points in the southern border. If you take the past four years, fiscal year ’17, ’18, ’19, and ’20, you had 14. So, that caused us, from my perspective, sleepless nights.

This escalation, according to Healy, is a significant departure from the relative trickle of terror watch list encounters during his tenure. Not only does it reflect a troubling trend, but it also puts into perspective the challenges faced by the current border security measures.

Comparison Highlights Growing Border Security Concerns

The comparison of terrorist encounters across different time frames paints a worrying picture for border security. It raises critical questions about the screening processes currently in place and their effectiveness in identifying and preventing potential threats from entering the U.S. The stark difference in numbers also underscores the importance of having robust systems such as the "gold program" to monitor and respond to such threats effectively.

Tim Healy's reflections on the "gold program" he presided over during his time at the FBI emphasize the value of diligent monitoring. The program's daily briefings on terror watch list encounters played a pivotal role in ensuring threats were identified and addressed in a timely manner. The program's success in flagging individuals unknown to the FBI underscores its significance in national security protocols.


The concerns raised by Tim Healy, a former FBI official, about the increasing number of known or suspected terrorists at the U.S. southern border are deeply unsettling. The stark rise from a handful of individuals in prior years to 336 recently is a clear signal that border security measures may need to be re-evaluated and enhanced.

Healy's comparison of the current situation to the number of encounters during his tenure at the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center demonstrates a significant security lapse.

His detailed account of the "gold program" and the importance of thorough monitoring of the terror watch list emphasize the potential risks of "gotaways" and the gravity of the situation. Border security agencies and policymakers must take heed of these warnings to ensure the safety and security of the nation.

About Robert Cunningham

With years of experience at the forefront of political commentary, Robert Cunningham brings a blend of sharp wit and deep insight to his analysis of American principles at the Capitalism Institute.

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