FILE ID:95051007.LAR




TR95051007 (Bombing raised awareness) +eg (520)

By Eric Green

USIA Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City last

month, which killed 167 people, has increased U.S. public awareness

that terrorism is a major national security threat, according to

federal officials involved in the issue.

Speaking May 10 at a forum here on global and domestic terrorism

sponsored by George Washington University, Michael Vatis of the

Justice Department said "we can be fairly sure there will be more

terrorist attacks within this country and against Americans abroad."

He added, however, that the "one hopeful thing coming" from the

Oklahoma City bombing is that "there is now a consensus outside a

small circle of terrorism experts that terrorism is a major national

security threat and that effective measures must be taken consistent

with our civil liberties to improve our ability to prevent" such


Vatis, deputy director for Justice's executive office for national

security, said the administration's counter-terrorism bill before

Congress would make it easier for the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(FBI) to conduct investigations against international terrorists, as

well as make it easier and faster to deport alien terrorists from the

United States.

The bill, he said, would add 1,000 new agents and prosecutors to

handle terrorism cases. It would also provide clear federal

jurisdiction for international terrorism acts committed within the

United States and for federal jurisdiction over terrorists who use

this country as their base for plotting terrorist acts abroad.

Vatis said his agency is studying how to improve the safety of every

federal building to prevent another Oklahoma City from occurring.

However, he said, "there is no way to make sure every federal building

is absolutely invulnerable" to a terrorist act. As in Oklahoma City,

Vatis said, a building can be destroyed by a bomb out front without

the terrorist having to go inside.

Vatis said the administration's bill would increase the government's

ability "to get intelligence on the plans and capability of terrorist

organizations by infiltrating and increasing our surveillance of those


Michael Kraft, director of special projects for the State Department's

office of counter-terrorism, said his agency's $15 million

anti-terrorism training program helps other countries fight terrorist

acts, and by doing so, helps protect Americans traveling and living


But American security officials, he noted, cannot be put in every

foreign airport to protect American citizens from such acts as the

Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of a Pan American World Airways plane over

Scotland that killed 270 people.

"It's up to the host government" to protect U.S. citizens who are in

foreign countries, Kraft said.

The United States, he said, has made "pretty good progress" in having

other countries bring terrorists to trial and added that the

administration's anti-terrorism bill will help bolster international

treaties to further protect the public safety.

Yonah Alexander, director of the terrorism studies program at George

Washington University, said international terrorism must receive a

global response.