Terror warning

I don’t know what to make of this school terror alert story.

Schools in six states in particular are being watched closely based on information uncovered by the U.S. military in Baghdad this summer, law enforcement and education officials told ABC News.

A man described as an Iraqi insurgent involved in anti-coalition activities had downloaded school floor plans and safety and security information about elementary and high schools in the six states, according to officials.

School officials in Fort Myers, Fla.; Salem, Ore.; Gray, Ga.; Birch Run, Mich.; two towns in New Jersey; and two towns in California have been told to increase security in light of the discovery.

Why would a terrorist single out these small and medium-sized towns? Did the school districts post an unusual amount of security information online? School officials in these towns must feel completely helpless. They’re not equipped to fight off terrorists.

Update: San Diego apparently is one of the California districts. It’s a major city. But how does it fit in with Birch Run or Gray?

Another update: This CNN story mentioned by commenter Chris is reassuring:

The Department of Homeland Security official said the material was associated with a person in Iraq, and it could not be established that this person had any ties to terrorism. He did have a connection to civic groups doing planning for schools in Iraq, the official said.

The guy’s probably looking for tips on school design.

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Comments

  1. Bluemount says:

    If the goal is terror, injuring a small town would certainly make everyone feel there is no safe place. Associating it to the war in Bagdad would certainly create civil unrest and anger toward foreigners. That’s the problem with wars. Too bad security in school is about control and not safety.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Since we cannot possibly protect everything we value against attack, perhaps we should concentrate on reducing the threat by hobbling those who boast their threat against us.

  3. there’s a darker concern:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10573-2004Oct6?language=printer

    “The strategy is aimed at stoking public fears about terrorism, raising new concerns about Kerry’s ability to protect Americans and reinforcing Bush’s image as the steady anti-terrorism candidate, aides said. ”

    Disk was found in July; schools were notified last month. Although to be fair, it probably didn’t get elevated until Beslan. All the same, October surprse, anyone?

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Aw, come on, Chris. You know what would be said had anything occured and it was discovered that BUSH KNEW!!!!!!!

  5. there is a less dark explanation:

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/10/08/schools.iraq/index.html

    The Department of Homeland Security official said the material was associated with a person in Iraq, and it could not be established that this person had any ties to terrorism. He did have a connection to civic groups doing planning for schools in Iraq, the official said.

    but sadly, the heated response will only inspire the nefarious.

  6. Small towns are unlikely to have SWAT teams. On average, they will have small police forces who are unprepared for an attack, and inhabitants who do not consider themselves to be at risk for terrorism. Violence and crime happen in other places, not (insert small town name here). Police and anti-terrorism units can reach the scene in Chicago or New York far more quickly than in a small rural or suburban town.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Sure, and those guys in Arizona were just practicing in case their pilot ever wanted to take a nap.

  8. Whether or not this particular individual was innocent, this highlights the ease with which a non-innocent individual (Middle Eastern or not) could carry out a terrorist attack on a school. I think it certainly behooves us all to take this opportunity to think about what we can do to make our schools safer. We may not agree on the details (e.g. concealed weapons permit holders bringing guns on campus, taking the fight to the Middle East instead of on our own turf) but we should all agree on the objectives.

Trackbacks

  1. Why killing children makes sense for Islamo-fascists – and a speculation about smaller schools being a defence against that

    Depressing but inevitable, and presumably now being said by governments and by education departments the world over, more or less

  2. The Duelfer Report: So What?

    I haven’t read it and probably won’t. I’m taking it easy tonight because the holiday weekend will be spent working on projects, one BIG, others small (including developing an op-ed based on the “Acting White” study). I won’t give details on the big one…