IMF Protests Fuel Speculation of More Terrorism

By Michael L. Betsch | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

( - Anti-capitalist groups converging on the nation's capital this week to protest the International Monetary Fund/World Bank meetings do not expect to be used as cover for a terrorist strike, but intelligence sources aren't ruling out anything.

"We're getting a little over-anxious about identifying terrorists," said Socialist Party USA spokesman Greg Pason. Terrorists could use any public venue to carry out their plot -- not just the IMF protest rally, he said.

William S. Lind, a counter-terrorism expert with the Free Congress Foundation, said both terrorists and government officials have an interest in invoking the public's fear by making every big event out to be an opportunity for terrorist attacks.

He said it would come as no surprise if intelligence officials received information that a terror strike was about to occur during the IMF protests. By his account, detained terror suspects are feeding interrogators a steady stream of false terror threats because it serves their purposes.

The detained terror suspects magnify the strength of terror organizations such as al Qaeda when officials take their bogus terror warnings seriously, Lind said.

"They send us into all kinds of alarms and fears and so forth, and I'm sure they're laughing as they do it," he said.

At the same time, Lind said government officials benefit from terror threats because emergency situations give them more reason to claim control and power. That's what states and bureaucracies like to do, he added.

"Essentially, both sides feed off of it so you could be pretty sure there'll be more of it."

But the U.S. Secret Service claims intelligence reports continue to indicate that Washington, D.C. and the White House remain targets of terrorist plans.

"Large groups in close proximity to the White House could themselves present inviting targets for terrorist activity," wrote Donald Flynn, assistant director for the Secret Service Office of Protective Operations to the National Park Service.

Flynn elaborated on his primary reasons for banning organized gatherings from areas adjacent to the White House complex, stating, "The presence of a large group in these areas could unintentionally provide cover activity such that a terrorist could approach the complex without attracting attention."

As of Monday, Sept. 23, a spokesperson for the National Park Service (NPS) said permit applications submitted by two anti-capitalist groups that intend to demonstrate in close proximity to the White House and the Department of the Treasury have not yet been approved.

Regardless of permit status, the anti-capitalist protest group, 50 Years Is Enough, is advising protesters to attend an all-night prayer vigil in front of the Treasury Department on Thursday. Meanwhile, Mobilization for Global Justice has been directing anti-IMF protestors to rally on the lawn area just south of the White House known as the Ellipse on Saturday. See White House Map

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJ), rejected the notion that terrorists might use the anti-capitalist rally as a vehicle to launch an attack on D.C.

"It's a little ridiculous, this concept that terrorists are somehow going to be gravitating towards people who are expressing some political dissent as an opportunity to strike some kind of attack," she said.

She dismissed the likelihood that the terrorists could achieve access to targets in D.C. by hiding behind facemasks, a tactic commonly used by anti-capitalist and anti-globalist protesters.

"The mask thing has nothing to do with terrorism," she said.

Unless a mask is worn in the course of breaking the law, it's a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment and the District of Columbia Official Code, she said.

Further, she said the section of the D.C. Code that prohibits protesters from concealing their identities was written to prevent the "Ku Klux Klan and other groups that were identified as terrorist organizations" from conducting their activity anonymously.

By her account, the anti-capitalist protestors that will converge in D.C. this week have "absolutely nothing to do with the concept of terrorism -- they're trying to make things better for everyone and not just themselves."

See Related Story:

Is IMF 'Misunderstood' by Protestors?
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