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FBI: Seattle Seen As 'Easy Target' Fri Jun 28,11:59 AM ET

SEATTLE (AP) - Islamic terrorists consider Seattle an "easy target" because of bad policing, the FBI ( news - web sites) warned area officials.

Charles Mandigo, FBI special agent in charge of the Seattle office, told the King County Council that terrorists consider the area an "easy target" and an undisclosed number of potential local collaborators are "willing and able" to help commit terrorism.

Mandigo gave his assessment Wednesday in a homeland security ( news - external web site) hearing that was closed to the public shortly after it began. His prepared remarks were released afterward by Sheriff Dave Reichert and reported Friday by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"It has been noted by the highest level of our government in our nation's capital that the Seattle area has and continues to receive a disproportionate high number of terrorism threats as compared to other parts of the country, many of them coming from overseas," Mandigo said.

"None of the threats has been substantiated, but the trend is "very disconcerting," Mandigo said.

He said the FBI is conducting "a significant number" of terrorism-related investigations in Washington state, particularly in the Seattle area, and "several of these investigations are considered to be very significant."

In an interview, Mandigo would not say how many investigations were being conducted or discuss potential terrorist supporters or cells, types of threats, potential targets, likelihood of arrests and monitoring of people viewed as potential suspects.

However, his briefing paper singled out law enforcement staffing as a central concern, saying there was a perception of a lack of law enforcement that could allow terrorists do to their work undetected.

Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said Mandigo's comments on potential terrorist threats are in line with other recently released information.

Kerlikowske also expressed concern about staffing, which has remained about the same for his force for the last 20 years while the city has grown by 50,000 people.

The metropolitan area ranks 13th in population nationally but has the fifth highest crime rate, 27 percent higher than the national average, while the state has one police officer per 615 residents, compared with than the national average of one per 405 residents.

Seattle's policing made the world headlines in 1999 when five days of rioting during a World Trade Organization ( news - web sites) summit forced authorities to call in state troopers and the National Guard to gain control of the protesters.

Ahmed Ressam, convicted of terrorist conspiracy in an alleged plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, also entered the United States about 60 miles north of Seattle in 1999. He was arrested at Port Angeles with a carload of bomb-making materials.

-- Osama Yo Mama (we@gonna.getcha), June 29, 2002


Poor Seattle. In the 70s and 80s it was acclaimed as one of America's "most liveable cities". Kiss of death, people flocked to this liveable city and now it is crime ridden, traffic clogged and overbuilt.

Its best feature now is high quality coffee enemas. Mmmmm!

-- (Algernon C. Braithewait III @ P-town.MA), June 29, 2002.

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