WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the FBI's Washington field office announced his retirement on Thursday after two years in the position and about 25 years with the agency.
James W. McJunkin, a former state trooper who rose through the ranks of the FBI while developing expertise in counterterrorism, alerted colleagues to his departure in an email. He is leaving to take a corporate security position in Chicago. The FBI has not yet announced a replacement.
"He's done a great job," U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement through his spokesman. "He's a dedicated and committed public servant and he'll be missed."
McJunkin has overseen regional investigations into terrorist plots, including a foiled bomb plot against the U.S. Capitol, violent crime and government corruption since being named the office's assistant director in charge in November 2010. But he carved out a national profile in the past decade for his work on some of the most significant counterterrorism investigations in the U.S. and overseas, such as suicide bomb plots against the New York City subway system, deadly coordinated attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 and a 2006 bombing outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan that killed a diplomat and several Pakistanis.
His departure leaves a void in an agency that considers fighting terrorism its top priority and that has recently lost several top officials with expertise in the area, including former New York office head Janice Fedarcyk, who retired in August.
McJunkin joined the FBI as a special agent in 1987 after serving as a trooper with the Pennsylvania state police. He worked in field offices in San Antonio and Atlanta before being promoted to the International Terrorism Operations Section, where he became an assistant section chief and supervised counterterrorism operations. He later led the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington and held a supervisory role in the FBI's counterterrorism division.
Several of his most high-profile cases in his current position have involved terrorism plots or otherwise suspicious activity that drew the bureau's attention.
Agents in February, for instance, arrested in a sting operation a Moroccan man who wanted to blow himself up inside the U.S. Capitol as an act of martyrdom. And last year, authorities arrested a former Marine Corps reservist caught trespassing in Arlington National Cemetery in the middle of the night with a backpack containing ammonium nitrate and a notebook that made references to al-Qaida.
Besides terrorism, McJunkin has also presided in the last year and a half over an ongoing investigation into D.C. government corruption. The probe has already wrung guilty pleas from two former Council members, Harry Thomas Jr., and Kwame Brown, and several campaign aides to Mayor Vincent Gray. An investigation into the mayor's 2010 campaign is also continuing.
He's often a fixture at developing crime scenes, such as the shooting in August inside the Family Research Council building, where he can be seen consulting with his agents or officials from other law enforcement agencies.
"Losing Jimmy is going to be a big loss for all of us in Washington. He is an extraordinary leader and has been a fantastic partner to local law enforcement," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, whose department works closely with the FBI, said in an email.