From: Otis Willie
Subject: FBI mobilizes surveillance for July 4th
Organization: The American War Library
NNTP-Posting-Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 21:11:22 EDT
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 01:11:22 GMT
FBI mobilizes surveillance for July 4th
(EXCERPT) Thu Jun 20, 8:38 AM ET
Kevin Johnson USA TODAY
WASHINGTON -- The FBI ( news - web sites) is launching a national
surveillance effort to guard local communities against possible
terrorist attacks on Fourth of July celebrations, federal authorities
FBI officials said there was no specific threat, and the action was
being taken as a precaution. Even so, authorities acknowledged
Wednesday that interrogations of prisoners at the Navy base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have revealed general references to July Fourth.
Federal agents in all of the bureau's 56 field offices have been
ordered to develop plans to monitor holiday activities in their
regions. Those plans were due back at headquarters by the end of the
''All of this is being done out of an abundance of caution,'' FBI
spokesman Bill Carter said.
Since Sept. 11, national landmarks have been widely discussed as
possible targets for future attacks. Those historic sites, especially
in Washington, D.C., generally serve as dramatic backdrops for Fourth
of July celebrations, capped by nighttime fireworks displays.
Federal authorities were not aware of any effort by cities to scale
back celebrations this year because of terrorism fears. But local
police were moving to establish heavily fortified perimeters around
key landmarks, at airports and other public transportation centers,
''We have already planned to put a larger contingent of officers on
the street,'' Washington Metropolitan Police Sgt. Joe Gentile said.
''We generally have a big presence out for crowd and traffic control.
This year, it will be bigger.''
Perhaps not since New Year's Eve of 1999 has a major celebration
attracted so much concern. At that time, federal and international
authorities joined in a mass mobilization of law enforcement and
intelligence agents to guard against attack. The effort proved
successful in the USA when federal agents in Washington state thwarted
a planned attack against the Los Angeles International Airport.
For the Fourth of July, the government has issued no special travel
advisories, nor have officials raised the prospect of an imminent
attack. But the Bush administration's Homeland Security Office has
advised government personnel at many levels that security staffing
should remain at normal levels.
''It's important not to reduce the number of guards simply because
it's a national holiday,'' spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
In Europe, top security chiefs were offering more dire warnings. They
say that a terror assault on Europe was almost inevitable and that the
next attack on the West could be nuclear.
David Veness, head of Britain's anti-terrorist police, said a nuclear
or biological attack was ''sadly the next logical step.''
The director of the European Union ( news - web sites)'s police
agency, Europol, issued a similar warning, saying it was a question of
''when and where,'' not ''if,'' an attack would occur in Europe.
''We are talking about attacks beyond macro casualties. This, I'm
afraid, represents a step we can all anticipate,'' Veness said at an
international crime conference in London.
U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed concern that Saudi fugitive
Osama bin Laden ( news - web sites), whose al-Qaeda group is blamed by
Washington for planning the Sept. 11 attacks on America, has tried to
acquire weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. officials arrested on May 8 suspected al-Qaeda operative Abdullah
Al Muhajir, born Jose Padilla, in Chicago on suspicion of exploring
attacks on the USA, including detonating a ''dirty bomb.''
Veness said the scale of the ''new dimension of terrorism'' was
illustrated by the lines crossed on Sept. 11 -- ''no notice'' suicide
attacks, mass deaths and simultaneous attacks.
''Our great fear is the change that will be wrought when inevitably a
suicide attack occurs in Western Europe,'' he said.
-- DEA Watch
The Voice of the Drug Enforcement Agent
American Victims of Substance Abuse Memorial