Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stepped-Up Security Unveiled for Latest NYC Terrorism Trial; Attacks in Paris Heighten Concern as Lone Defendant Faces Judge in 1998 Embassy Bombings

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stepped-Up Security Unveiled for Latest NYC Terrorism Trial; Attacks in Paris Heighten Concern as Lone Defendant Faces Judge in 1998 Embassy Bombings

Article excerpt

NEW YORK * Bigger names in global terrorism have been tried in New York's federal courts before, but there has never been this kind of security all at once: federal guards with assault rifles at every entrance, Homeland Security vans surrounding the courthouses, searches, metal detectors and sign-ins required for all trial visitors.

As a terrorism trial gets underway for a lone defendant in twin bombings of U.S. embassies nearly two decades ago, fears over the terrorist attacks in Paris and unrest a world away have raised security at the city's federal courthouses to levels not seen since the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But even with the stepped-up security, which includes the recording of passing license plates, courthouse administrators said it was important that the doors be kept open and that anyone who enters be able to do so without fear of intimidation.

"No event here or overseas is going to shake that foundation," said Edward Friedland, judicial district executive for the Southern District of New York.

Friedland and Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska both said they could not discuss specific security measures, though they noted that assessments of security were frequently done and improvements often made, including construction of a new $10 million security pavilion alongside a federal courthouse that will prevent visitors from entering the 26-story courthouse without being screened first.

"It will make the place a lot safer because we will be screening people outside," Preska said.

The ability to fully protect lower Manhattan during major terrorism trials conducted a short walk from the World Trade Center complex was called into question in 2009 when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that professed Sept. 11 attacks mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed would be tried with four others in Manhattan. …

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