Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Los Angeles Region Dodges a Bullet
Los Angeles: The announcement of a federal indictment against members of a local radical Islamic organization by the United States Attorney Debra Yang revealed a plot by three Americans and one Pakistani national to attack U.S. military facilities, Israeli government facilities, and Jewish synagogues in the Los Angeles area.
"We dodged a bullet here. Perhaps many bullets. These individuals had devised a plan, selected targets, obtained the weapons, set the date and chosen their victims," said Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, speaking at the press conference today in the Federal Building downtown.
The plot was uncovered after Torrance police officers captured two suspects involved in a string of gas station robberies last May. Information retrieved from the suspects' homes was shared with the Long Beach Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which is staffed by many federal, state, and local agencies who share information.
As a member of the JTTF, the LAPD committed to this investigation over 100 investigators and officers. At times, investigators conducted 24-hours surveillance of the suspects. "I want to thank all the men and women of LAPD's Counter Terrorism Bureau who worked for weeks without time off, around the clock, to prevent these planned attacks," said LAPD's Counter Terrorism Deputy Chief John Miller. "I also want to thank the FBI for its leadership in this case, and all of our partners in the JTTF who stood shoulder to shoulder with us throughout."
"The task force's ability to thwart this plot shows just how important local expertise is to countering terrorism, especially homegrown terrorism," said LAPD Commander Mark Leap, who is overseeing LAPD's counter-terrorism operations until Chief Bratton names John Miller's successor.
In the aftermath of the indictments, LAPD leaders will be meeting with leaders and managers of the locations targeted by the homegrown terrorist group. An LAPD task force has been formed between Operations West and Valley bureaus to provide special patrols around synagogues during the High Holy Days in the coming months, in particular, during Yom Kippur in October.
The LAPD staffs a toll-free number to report any real or perceived terrorist information. Anyone with information on such activity is encouraged to call 1-877-A-THREAT (284-7328).