Thursday, September 20, 2001

Task forces to fight threat of terrorism

Ohio, Ky. units created to help protect region

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Federal authorities in Ohio and Kentucky created anti-terrorism task forces Wednesday to combat terrorist threats in the region.

        The special units were formed a day after U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered more cooperation among federal agencies in the fight against terrorism.

        U.S. attorney's offices will oversee the task forces in every state, including Ohio and Kentucky.

        The mission of the task forces is to stop the kind of attacks that occurred in New York and Washington last week.

        Each task force will include representatives from the FBI; the U.S. Customs Service; the Immigration and Naturalization Service; the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Marshals; the Secret Service; Postal Inspection Service; Internal Revenue Service; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

        The FBI is leading the investigation into last week's terrorist attacks, but the agency will begin working more closely with other agencies.

        “We're just making sure that what they're doing is funneled to the right places,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hunt, who will coordinate the task force in southern Ohio.

        The plan is the same in Northern Kentucky.

        The U.S. Attorney's Office in Lexington will lead that task force.

        The task forces will report to a national anti-terrorism coordinator.

        The goals of the task forces include:

        • Keeping local law enforcement officials informed about possible terrorist networks in their communities.

        • Putting in place a plan to prevent terrorism.

        • Responding quickly to any terrorist attack in the region.

        The task forces here are part of a “concerted national assault against terrorism,” said Gregory Lockhart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

        Mr. Hunt said he expects the task forces to remain in place even after the investigation into the recent attacks is over.

        “I think it's going to be a continuing thing,” he said.

        Also Wednesday, Cincinnati police assigned three officers tohelp the FBI with its heavy workload.


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