Copyright 1995 The Columbus Dispatch
The Columbus Dispatch
May 12, 1995, Friday
SECTION: NEWS LOCAL & NATIONAL, Pg. 2B
LENGTH: 411 words
HEADLINE: BOMBING SHOWED FBI BLIND SPOT
BYLINE: Kevin Mayhood, Dispatch Staff Reporter
The Oklahoma City bombing April 19 has shown that the FBI is much better prepared to deal with international terrorists than those living within U.S. borders, said FBI Special Agent David Hanna.
Ever since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein threatened to strike at the heart of the ''great Satan,'' terrorist experts in America believed that fanatics from the Middle East would try to bomb a building in America's Midwest, Hanna said.
''Little did we suspect that when the bombing occurred, that it would be, it appears, by domestic terrorists,'' he said.
Hanna, who supervises the FBI office in Columbus, has been tracking international terrorism for most of his 17-year career. He spoke to the Capital City Young Republicans at the University Club Downtown last night.
''We have been focusing mainly on the Middle East,'' Hanna said.
Working with other federal agencies and sharing information with law enforcement departments around the world, the FBI has been gathering intelligence about terrorists, he said. ''There have been a lot of terrorist acts thwarted in this country - they've never been reported - because we were able to intervene.''
He said the intelligence network led to quick arrests of those responsible for the 1992 World Trade Center bombing. ''That and they were so stupid as to try to get their deposit back on the rental truck blown up.''
He pointed out that the FBI cannot keep tabs on individuals in the United States without evidence that they are about to or have committed a crime.
Timothy McVeigh was quickly caught because he was speeding in a car without a license plate, he said. McVeigh, and now Terry Nichols, have been charged in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The greatest challenge is the fanatic who acts alone, he said. ''The Unabomber is a perfect example.''
The so-called Unabomber has killed three people and injured 23 with bombs sent through the mail during the last 17 years.
Hanna echoed FBI Director Louis J. Freeh in saying personnel and technology more than new laws are needed to fight domestic terrorists.
For years, precautions have been taken against attacks or bombings inside federal buildings, he said. After the Oklahoma bombing, parking nearby has been eliminated and other steps taken.
Hanna said he didn't mean to belittle the parking ban. ''But, the truth of the matter is, if someone with a 5,000-pound bomb has to park 30 feet away, it wouldn't make much of a difference.''