FBI Units Guard L.A. From Terror Attacks

Secretive unit chases out tips on potential homeland security threats

_ Someone reported receiving a package in the mail that contained suspicious items, including several foreign immigration documents.

None of those reports has been linked to terrorism, according to CT6 Supervisory Special Agent Kristen von KleinSmid.

But last July, one tip paid off.

CT6 was alerted after police detectives stumbled across a cache of firearms, ammunition and military vests in a Los Angeles apartment during a robbery investigation. Also seized were books on Islam and Osama bin Laden, plus a list of synagogues, military recruiting centers and other sites.

Federal prosecutors later charged that the facilities were being targeted by homegrown terror suspects who planned to kill scores of people in shooting rampages. Four men - three of them U.S.-born - now face counts of conspiring to wage war against the U.S. government, kill armed service members or murder foreign officials.

"Some of these (threats) definitely get you wound up," von KleinSmid said. "Your blood pressure goes up."

That was the case around 11 p.m. on a Friday last winter when a call from FBI headquarters in Washington jolted Special Agent Douglas Price awake at home.

Minutes earlier, an anonymous tipster had called the bureau warning of a terrorist plot to blow up a commercial airliner en route to either Los Angeles or Philadelphia from Mexico.

Price quickly headed into the office, where he could log into the bureau's background databases and start searching for information on the tipster. After a frantic two hours, he had gleaned the tipster's identity and address and learned the man had a prior arrest on charges unrelated to terrorism.

By 5 a.m., Price was knocking on the man's door. Responding to Price's questions, the tipster soon revealed how he know about the threat: He is psychic.

It was another false alarm. But it doesn't change the way Price approaches his job.

"In my mind, it was real," said Price, a gregarious 10-year veteran who wanted to work for the FBI since childhood. "In my mind, everything is real."


On the Net:

FBI Los Angeles field office: http://losangeles.fbi.gov

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