HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Huntsville is growing larger on the FBI's radar screen.
The head of the FBI's Birmingham division tells WHNT News 19 that the agency will soon be shifting resources in both national security and cybersecurity from the Birmingham hub to Huntsville, a clear sign the rocket city now wears a much bigger bullseye.
The FBI's Birmingham division includes Huntsville and the rest of north Alabama. Special Agent In Charge Rick Schwein said a recent FBI analysis revealed a clear need to transfer resources from Birmingham to Huntsville due to a high rate of top-secret work conducted in the north part of the state, along with a fast-growing population.
"One of the conclusions that we've reached is that we need to conduct a strategic shift to move the center of gravity of our national security program to the Huntsville area," said Schwein. "You've got Redstone Arsenal, you've got Marshall Space Flight Center, Army Material Command. You've got four hundred plus cleared defense contractors all working on some significant national security issues...we see an opportunity to strengthen our capability to match up against those national security threats."
Schwein said the recent attack on defense contractor Qinetiq by Chinese computer hackers is just one example of why the FBI is shifting it's Alabama focus. Specifics and a timeline for the move are still unclear, but Schwein confirmed that a bigger Huntsville office is on the menu for the FBI.
"It's going to be over time," said Schwein. "The numbers, particularly in a flat budget cycle, are going to be ones and twos. But what we hope to do is bring the right people with the right skill sets and then effectively prioritize our efforts to go after the most egregious threats."