Retired agent Peter Ahearn served in the FBI for twenty-nine years. During his career, he served in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility. His last promotion was Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Division. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Peter Ahearn reviews the Lackawanna Six terrorism case and provides insight into the challenges of managing a major international terrorism investigation initiated just a few months before the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. The case was initiated after an anonymous letter was received claiming that several individuals, US citizens identified by name and residing in Lackawanna, New York, an area near Buffalo, had attended training camps in Afghanistan operated by Osama Bin Laden. The investigation received national attention, and the subjects became known as the Lackawanna Six.
During his tenure as SAC Buffalo, the agents assigned to the field office received multiple FBI Director’s Awards, Attorney General’s Awards, and the Service to America Medal for their work in the “Lackawanna Six” international terrorism case.
Prior to becoming SAC in Buffalo, Pete Ahearn spent several years investigating White Collar Crime, Public Corruption, Violent Crime, International Drugs and Organized Crime groups, Terrorism and National Security matters as a street agent in Pittsburgh, PA and Newark, NJ. He was promoted to Supervisor in Newark, assigned as the FBI Liaison Representative to the Office of International Affairs, Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C., and as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the FBI’s San Diego, California, Division. This position led to a joint duty assignment as the Deputy Assistant Administrator of Intelligence for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), managing DEA’s domestic and international intelligence and analytical program.
After his retirement, Peter Ahearn served two years as a Senior Advisor with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), assisting in the area of National Intelligence integration, Human Intelligence policy, providing guidance on Homeland Security, National Security and Congressional intelligence oversight matters.
Currently, Pete Ahearn operates, Ahearn Consulting Group in the Washington, D.C. area, providing executive consulting and strategic business development for companies supporting federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies and the Intelligence Community.
Special Agent in Charge (Retired)
Peter J. Ahearn, Sr
January 1977 – March 2006
“The case began drawing the scrutiny of the Director and then started to get briefed to the President. That’s when the pressure started to come. ‘When are you going to take these individuals down?'” — Retired Agent Peter Ahearn
The following are links to articles about the Lackawanna Six investigation:
The Buffalo News – 12/29/2015: FBI agent in Lackawanna Six probe recalls that Nagi was vocal supporter
Frontline – PBS 10/16/2003: Chronology – The Lackawanna Investigation – Inside the Sleeper Cell
NPR (Audio) – 9/10/2007: How Great a Threat Were the Lackawanna Six?