GUAM STILL ON HIGH ALERT A MONTH AFTER TERRORIST ATTACKS ON U.S.

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By Theresa Merto Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (October 11, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Increased security measures -- put in place after terrorist attacks a month ago today -- may remain in effect for months.

"The most important thing is that even though Guam has been considered by the military, federal and local agencies as a low threat risk -- we must always be prepared," said Civil Defense Administrator Joe Javellana.

"Our state of awareness, alertness and readiness will always be in effect."

At the airport, armed Guam Army National Guard members stand by the curbsides; utility agencies, from water to power, are being monitored by security guards; and military bases on island continue to conduct 100 percent ID and random car checks.

"(We) have had appropriate protection measures since Sept. 11 and we will continue as long as necessary," said Tech. Sgt. Paula Allen-Gibbs, Air Force spokeswoman.

Two commercial jetliners crashed Sept. 11 into the World Trade Center in New York City and a third hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth airliner crashed about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The planes were hijacked by terrorists. Thousands of people were killed in the attacks.

In response to those assaults, American and British forces on Monday began air attacks against military targets and Osama bin Laden's training camps inside Afghanistan, striking at terrorists blamed for last month's mainland attacks.

Local officials said they already have stringent security measures in place and do not plan to step it up soon, while military officials declined to state specific defense procedures.

Military bases

Military bases on island remain in a high state of alert following the attacks and are at an "appropriate force protection level," said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Monica Richardson.

"We continue to monitor things," she said. "We are working very closely with Civil Defense and all local law enforcement agencies, and that is to deter terrorist attacks on Guam and in this area."

Citing security reasons, military officials would not say if Guam's bases and troops will be involved in future attacks, and they would not give their level of alert.

Immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, military bases were put on Threatcon Delta -- the military's highest state of security and awareness.

Meanwhile, access to bases will continue to be limited to those with proper identification, including active duty members, contractors and civilian employees who work on the bases.

Public safety

The Guam Police Department is doing its part to continue to ensure the public's safety.

"At GPD, we are still in high alert," said police spokesman Officer A.J. Balajadia. "We are being more mindful of our surroundings and are trying to ensure that our community remains safe."

Balajadia said the department continues to investigate bomb threats and similar calls made since the mainland attacks.

"It is a serious offense ... and we are going to arrest those who do this," he said.

The Guam International Airport Authority received a threat by phone yesterday morning, said general manager Jerry Yingling. He would not give specifics, adding only that the call was not a bomb threat. No one was evacuated, but the case is being investigated by the FBI and airport police, he said.

Airport security

Additional signs and concrete barriers were among the extra security measures implemented at the airport recently -- some of which may remain in place permanently.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday also issued a new federal security rule, which allows passengers only a single piece of carry-on luggage, in addition to another small bag.

"Like a purse, attaché or a computer bag," Yingling said, adding that some people used to bring at least three other pieces of carry-on luggage on the plane with them, including knapsacks and shopping bags.

"The limit is a security measure to better manage the flow of people, and it will allow screeners to more thoroughly examine the bags."

Yingling said that in the next few months, the airport may add concourses and renovate the parking lot.

Reservists

About 102 Guam Army National Guard members are on hand to boost security measures at the airport.

That move fell in line with a request from President Bush to use guard units at the nation's airports until long-term security measures are in place. All of the nation's airports have been on higher states of alert since last month.

"Everything has been great," Yingling said, adding that the transition has been expedient and smooth.

More than 100 Guard reservists and about 100 Army reservists are on active duty to help with security at military facilities, among other duties.

"It's been pretty much the same with airport security and force protection," said Capt. John Guerrero, Guard public information officer.

Homeland defense

Security around Guam's harbors remains on heightened alert after the attacks, and that situation is not expected to change soon.

"Homeland defense and port security continue to be one of the top missions of the Coast Guard, alongside search and rescue missions," said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Lee Putnam.

Last month, the Coast Guard increased port security in the wake of the terrorist attacks, according to Pacific Daily News files.

A C-130 Hercules plane arrived from Air Station Barbers Point in Hawai‘i to be used for port security missions around Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Safeguard facilities

The Port Authority of Guam, like other government of Guam agencies, also continues to man security checkpoints, which have been in place since the attacks a month ago.

Utility agencies, including the Guam power, water and telephone authorities increased security measures and conduct periodic security checks to safeguard their facilities.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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