Police resources diverted from other problems to prevent terrorism


By David Johnston
The International Herald Tribune

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Nearly seven years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the war on terror in this city has evolved into a quiet struggle against a phantom foe, bolstered by an influx of grants and training, while more identifiable crimes - like homicide and robbery - often go unpunished for lack of resources.

Last year, when a sailor slipped over the side of a Turkish merchant ship in the city's port, a Providence police detective assigned to a joint terrorism task force was quickly alerted, reflecting a new vigilance since the Sept. 11 attacks. Alerts also went out to officials at immigration, customs, intelligence and other U.S. agencies, but the case went cold.

Another alarm was sounded over a suspicious man of Indian descent who asked a metals dealer about buying old power tools and hair dryers. The lead petered out when the prospective buyer told a police detective in an interview that he wanted to refurbish the equipment for resale overseas.

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