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LA Mayor Says Terrorist Plot Shows Need for More Security Funding


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says he is not surprised to learn of a foiled terrorist plan to attack his city. Thursday, President Bush spoke of a 2002 al-Qaida plot to fly an airliner into a Los Angeles office building. The Los Angeles official says his city is dealing with the threat, but would like more help from Washington.

Mr. Bush said the man behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon had planned another attack on the other side of the country.

"We now know that in October, 2001, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast," he said.

The president said that building was the 310-meter Library Tower in Los Angeles, which has since been renamed the US Bank Tower. He said the plot was stopped when an unnamed Southeast Asian nation captured an al-Qaida operative in early 2002.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the news did not surprise him.

"This only proves what I, along with other big city mayors have stressed, and that is that all federal homeland security funding should be threat-based, and that local governments like Los Angeles and first-responders are on the front lines and need additional resources from the federal government," he said.

He said the security workers at the building in question have been given special training, and local officials have conducted a vulnerability study of the structure. "These measures are being implemented at critical infrastructure sites throughout Los Angeles, not just at the Library Tower," he said.

The mayor said that just last week, he added some 80 officers to the city's anti-terrorism unit.

In a separate interview with Associated Press, Mr. Villaraigosa said this was the first time he had heard details of the alleged plot, and that he was surprised that the president did not inform city officials earlier.

The mayor, a Democrat and sometimes-critic of the Republican president, suggested that some U.S. spending for the war in Iraq be redirected toward security for high-risk targets like Los Angeles.

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