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FBI Director Comey Believes Brussels Attacks Won't Inspire U.S. Copycats

by Pete Williams /

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FBI Director James Comey says the agency has so far found no connections between the terrorists behind the Brussels attacks and anyone in the United States

Comey said whenever there's a terrorist attack overseas, the FBI pays extra attention to terror suspects in the US, looking for any signs of copycat attacks. And agents look for any kind of connections — communications, family relationships and so on — with people in the U.S.

So far, he says, there no sign of either in the case of the Brussels attacks.

 FBI Director James Comey speaks during a news conference for announcing a law enforcement action March 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, the two brothers and suicide bombers behind the Brussels airport and metro attacks this week were known to U.S. counter terrorism authorities prior to bombings and listed as a potential terror threat in U.S. databases, NBC News has learned. The attacks killed at least 31 people and injured at least 200 others.

Related: U.S. Knew Brussels Bombers Before They Struck

Comey said he doubted the Brussels attacks may inspire copycat attacks in the U.S.

"I am an optimist, but I actually think that it may have the reverse effect," he said

“When people see images of innocent men, women, and children being slaughtered around the world, I hope that will reinforce the notion that the Islamic State, so-called, is not engaged in some heroic, romantic battle on the side of good, but instead they’ll see it as a bunch of savages occupying a space that’s hell on earth right now.”

Related: FBI's Comey: Fight to Stop Citizens Trying to Join ISIS Worse in Some Ways, Better in Others

In recent months, the FBI has noted a reduction in the number of people in the U.S. trying to travel overseas to join up with ISIS.

"I am an optimist, but I actually think that it may have the reverse effect"

“That’s a positive trend, and we hope very much it reflects an understanding by people looking for a center in their life, this is not the place to find it.”

He spoke in response to a question during a news conference at the Justice Department to announce charges against seven men in Iran accused of cyberattacks on U.S. facilities.

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