Security tight on Oklahoma City blast’s anniversary

WASHINGTON | Security will be tight today at federal buildings and other potential targets across the country as Oklahoma City marks the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Amid a vast security umbrella, Vice President Dick Cheney and former President Bill Clinton will headline a memorial event in Oklahoma City remembering the 168 lives lost, including 19 children, and hundreds injured in the April 19, 1995, explosion.

Friends, families and survivors will be joined at the site by top officers from federal law-enforcement agencies that lost personnel in the nation’s worst case of domestic terrorism.

Nearly half the building was blown away in the plot by bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who sought revenge for the deadly incident two years earlier on the same date at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas.

On April 19, 1993, much of the Davidians’ fortified compound burned to the ground as federal agents moved in and tear-gassed buildings after a 51-day standoff. Cult leader David Koresh and 85 followers, including 17 children, were killed.

Every year since the bombing, the FBI warns state and local law-enforcement officers to be on the lookout for trouble as the anniversary nears. The FBI is paying particular attention to the 10th anniversary.

“We’re sensitive to the fact that certain groups attach significance to certain dates,” FBI spokesman Joe Parris said. “In the case of Oklahoma City, they did act on it.”

With Cheney and Clinton attending this year’s event, the Secret Service will take the lead law-enforcement role at the site, but officials aren’t taking any chances nationwide.

The Federal Protective Service, which oversees a force of 10,000 armed contract security guards, plans to buttress surveillance at thousands of federally owned and leased buildings across the country.

In addition, U.S. Park Police, Capitol Police, uniformed Secret Service and local officers plan extra patrols around key sites in Washington.

Outside Washington, there’s also concern that militia groups again are becoming active. Oklahoma City revealed the depth of an anti-government militia movement McVeigh and Nichols were a part of.

“After Oklahoma City, it seemed that the militia movement died down a bit. However, in the last couple of years, there’s been a resurgence,” said Marilyn Mayo, an expert on extremists with the Anti-Defamation League.

“They’re operating on a more quiet level, but what has brought these groups together is the belief that, in the post-Sept. 11 world, the government has unbridled power, and they see the war on terror as more directed at them,” she said.

The latest league report shows militia activity in Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington State and West Virginia. The groups offer paramilitary training and still are said to be stockpiling weapons, the league said.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
New York Daily News, via, USA
Apr. 19, 2005
Kenneth R. Bazinet

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday April 19, 2005.
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