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July 17, 2002
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California Increasing Security at Some Sites After Spanish Terror Arrests

by Don Thompson, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Police doubled patrols near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge after three suspected al-Qaida terrorists were arrested in Spain with videos of the bridge and other landmarks.

The videos had images of the World Trade Center from "different angles from different distances," as well as images of the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland and Universal studios in California, Spanish investigators said Tuesday.

California Highway Patrol officers fanned out to talk to local police and beefed up security soon after the arrests became public, said George Vinson, the security adviser for Gov. Gray Davis.

"We're just taking it very significantly because of where it comes from," Vinson said.

Vinson said the Anaheim and Los Angeles police departments, and security personnel for Disneyland and Universal Studios were notified of the videos.

However, Disneyland and the Anaheim Police Department denied being alerted by state authorities and reported they were taking no unusual security measures.

"I can confidently say that nothing out of the ordinary is taking place," said an Anaheim police spokesman, Sgt. Rick Martinez. "However, nothing is ordinary since September 11."

New York's Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Sears tower in Chicago were also included in the videos.

Investigators have previously found similar video tapes, maps and pictures - though not of California sites, Vinson said.

"We've been through this drill a number of times," Vinson said. "Just possessing that stuff isn't against the law, and without something further from interviews or whatever, it's difficult to tell if they were planning an attack."

The three men arrested Tuesday in Spain are Syrian and two had Spanish nationality.

One suspect, Ghasoub Al-Abrash Ghalyoun, was arrested in April but released.

Spanish officials said the suspension pillar of the Golden Gate Bridge "is given substantial attention" in the tapes. Other videos were extremely violent and showed Islamic fighters training in camps and during combat scenes in Chechnya, the Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement.

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