Officials say state not in danger from terrorist attacks

Joanna Dornfeld

While the United States continues to launch missile attacks on Afghanistan military camps, U.S. citizens brace themselves for another attack.

And Minnesotans continue to wonder if their state could be the next target.

“I am somewhat concerned, but not much,” said Anthony Sanders, a University law student. “But I understand that it is a possibility more than I did before.”

But federal and state officials say there is no reason to believe Minnesota is a potential target.

“We can’t really say there is any one place … any one state any more of a target,” FBI spokeswoman Coleen Rowley said.

Kevin Smith, Minnesota Department of Public Safety communications director, agreed.

“We have no reason to believe we are any more of a target than anyone else,” he said. “At this stage, we have to be ready for anything.”

Smith said possible Minnesota terrorist targets include state buildings, city halls, the Mall of America, sports facilities and casinos – where large groups of people gather.

Since the attacks on the East Coast, worries that bioterrorism might be the next weapon used against the United States have heightened.

But University microbiology professor Patrick Schlievert said it is unlikely Minnesota will be the target of a biological attack.

“I think any large metropolitan area could be, including the Twin Cities,” he said. “I doubt that we’d be the first choice. A lot of things tend to happen on the East and West Coast before they hit Minnesota.”

In the two weeks immediately following the attacks, security measures increased around the state but have since been scaled back.

“Clearly there was increased security around the police headquarters and the county courthouse,” said Michael Jordan, St. Paul police spokesman. “These measures have been stepped back.”

St. Paul police have enhanced patrolling in Jewish and Arab neighborhoods because of the recent holidays and to protect all residents against possible threats, Jordan said.

Smith said there is nothing more law enforcement agencies can do to protect citizens.

“It’s just each individual citizen’s responsibility to protect themselves,” he said.

Law enforcement’s role is to prevent or respond to attacks, Jordan said.

“The best thing everyone can do is get back to their normal life, but just be a little more cautious,” Smith said. “We have no reason to go into panic mode.”

Anne Rollings, a junior psychology major, agreed.

“You can’t really stop your life because of terrorists,” she said. “That’s kind of what they want you to do.”

 

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]