Disneyland Gas Attack Is Foiled, Paper Says

Article excerpt

Federal authorities said Friday that they had foiled an apparent terrorist plan to unleash a Japanese-style gas attack on visitors to Disneyland during its crowded Easter weekend festivities.

The plot was thwarted when authorities at Los Angeles International Airport apprehended two Japanese travelers a few days before Easter with information in their possession about how to make a highly toxic nerve gas, The Baltimore Sun has learned.

The two were alleged to be members of Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth, the Japanese cult that released the same type of poison gas - sarin - into the Tokyo subway system March 20, killing 12 people and sickening thousands of others, the officials added.

Without divulging the specifics of the incident, President Bill Clinton referred to it Friday at a news conference after suspects were taken into custody in connection with the bombing in Oklahoma City.

"There was one recent incident with which I was intimately familiar, which involved a quick and secret deployment of a major United States effort of FBI and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and Public Health Service and Army personnel because we had a tip of a possible terrorist incident which, thank goodness, did not materialize. But we went to the place and we were ready, we were ready to try to prevent it, and if it occurred, we were ready to respond," Clinton said.

The president cited the incident as an example of the sort of counterterrorist activity by the federal government that "the public does not see, most of which I should not comment on."

According to officials, who divulged the details of the operation on the condition that they not be identified, the attack apparently was planned for Easter weekend, when the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, Calif., puts on special attractions, swelling attendance at the park.

On Easter Sunday, Disneyland held its annual Roger Rabbit's Easter Buffet and Scramble, an annual buffet followed by an egg hunt that has drawn huge crowds. Tom Brocato, manager of publicity at Disneyland, said that the park never released crowd figures but that this year's event was "the best we've ever done" in attracting the public.

Federal officials first were alerted to the possibility of a terrorist incident by executives at Disneyland, one official said.

Disney received a letter "suggesting something was going to happen," the official said.

Independently, Tokyo police alerted the FBI earlier this month that two Japanese men associated with the Supreme Truth cult were flying to Los Angeles International Airport. Both were apprehended on their arrival in Los Angeles several days before Easter. In their possession were written instructions on how to make sarin, as well as a videotape. …