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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fearing Terrorist Attacks, Olympic Security Raised

WASHINGTON -- Federal authorities, saying the U.S. Olympics in Atlanta this summer could become a prime target for terrorists, for the first time at such a gathering are taking precautions against the use of unconventional weaponry such as poison gas, germ weapons or even a nuclear device.


Although the FBI said it has "not identified a credible [terrorist] threat" against the games, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and last year's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building have provoked heightened concern about the possibility of some kind of terrorist attack at the Olympics.


As a result, a task force under Vice President Al Gore has been devoting considerable effort to preparing for what officials say until recently was a virtually unthinkable event in this country.


In protecting against all kinds of threats, Olympic officials are forming what they describe as the largest security force ever assembled in peacetime for a public U.S. event. The group will be more than double the force of 12,000 law enforcement officers that protected the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.


Those attending the Games will see only a small portion of the immense security operation. At its heart will be an estimated 3,000 U.S. Army troops, 6,300 National Guardsmen, and at least 10,000 other police and private security guards at peak strength, with an additional force of agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and other federal agencies stationed nearby.


The unorthodox preparations for the event have included a series of secret exercises by the FBI and other agencies to simulate a chemical, nuclear, or biological attack and cope with the mayhem it might produce, including:


?A drill, staged by the FBI and other federal and local agencies in Atlanta over a three-day period last week, in which a mock terrorist group carrying deadly VX nerve gas drove a van through the city and crashed into a tanker carrying gasoline while other members of the same group held passengers hostage aboard a hijacked plane at the Atlanta airport.


?An exercise, under the direction of the Defense Nuclear Agency, in which a terrorist group threatened to detonate a nuclear device made of spent reactor fuel near Atlanta's center.


In a separate exercise next month, federal officials plan to board a high-tech military plane outfitted as a disaster command post for a practice emergency flight to Atlanta.