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Fighting terror notebook

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

Airport workers held in security crackdown

NORFOLK, Va. -- About 30 current and former workers at the Norfolk and Richmond airports were arrested Thursday by federal officials cracking down on airport security breaches.

The workers, employed in various jobs by the airports, airlines or other companies, allegedly gained access to secure areas of the airports by lying on their employment applications about their criminal records, were wanted on outstanding state warrants or were in violation of Immigration and Naturalization Service requirements.

They are not believed to be connected to terrorist activity, said Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. But they are considered a safety threat because they falsified their applications, and they could have been rehired by the airports or gotten jobs at other airports, McNulty said.

The roundup was part of the antiterrorism Airport Security Initiative. The national effort to tighten airport security since Sept. 11 was previously announced by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Offices eyed for twin towers site

NEW YORK -- Smaller, expandable office buildings that can be quickly constructed are one of the options being considered for parts of the World Trade Center site.

The buildings would be four to eight stories high but would be built with the idea that they would be made taller in the future, Alexander Garvin of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. said Wednesday.

A final blueprint for the site is to be chosen by Dec. 1 and will include a memorial to the 2,823 people killed.

Constructing small buildings would allow the space to be used immediately and "minimize disruption in what will likely be the world's largest construction site," Garvin said.

"We are all aware that the rebuilding will take a long, long time," Garvin said at the development group's monthly meeting. "Some have suggested this idea instead of leaving the area an open construction site."

He said it was one of many ideas being considered.

The development agency has received $2-billion in federal money for the redevelopment of the trade center and the surrounding area.

Prosecutors: Pearl trial nearing end

HYDERABAD, Pakistan -- After more than a month in court, prosecutors said Thursday they plan to wrap up their case next week against four men charged in the kidnapping and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Over the last two weeks, the prosecution decided to drop 14 of its 39 witnesses, including widow Mariane Pearl, in an effort to speed up the case, which has dragged on nearly 11/2 months. The special antiterrorism court hearing the case initially allotted only seven days for the trial.

The four Islamic militants charged, including suspected mastermind Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, have pleaded innocent.

Defense attorneys said they don't plan to present witnesses but will introduce evidence.

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