- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

RICHMOND CIA headquarters, the Norfolk Naval Station and other conspicuous terrorist targets would be fortified with rings of police and military protection even if the nation weren't at war in Iraq and on high alert back home.
The horror of September 11, 2001, ensured that.
Now, even lesser potential targets such as synagogues, schools and restaurants in Virginia and the D.C. region are tougher for an attacker partly because of sniper attacks last fall that left people more intuitively wary, state and private officials said.
George Foresman, the special deputy to Virginia Gov. Mark Warner for commonwealth preparedness, has a name for the watchfulness people have adopted because of September 11, war, varying terrorism threat levels and the horror of the sniper slayings: battlefield rhythm.
"One of the unfortunate outcomes of the sniper in Virginia and in Richmond the same region so dramatically impacted by September 11, the anthrax scares and the sniper is that people have become accustomed to dealing with fear," Mr. Foresman said.
"At the same time, it has become a powerful ally in our business because it's more difficult for the threat of terrorism to instill that level of fear. People are so much more educated than they were," said Mr. Foresman, a key player in devising and executing the state's anti-terrorism security and response plans.
Students have become more aware of their surroundings while going to and from classes.
Worshippers are more attentive to strangers, unafraid to ask questions.
People learned to scan their surroundings as they gassed their cars or left a cafe.
"Clearly there is the capacity for anyone to conduct a spectacular attack, but the more spectacular it is, the more likely it is now to be uncovered, the more likely it is that someone's going to say, 'Gosh, that looks out of the ordinary,'" Mr. Foresman said.
Orchestrated terror campaigns didn't start with the hijacking of the four jetliners that were flown into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center towers in New York and a field in western Pennsylvania by 19 men linked to Osama bin Laden.
In 1993, Aimal Khan Kasi killed two CIA employees when he opened fire with an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle on cars lined up to enter the agency's Langley headquarters. He was captured in his native Pakistan in 1997, tried in Virginia and executed last fall.
When terrorists flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 189 persons, Virginians became keenly aware that their state's proximity to power can make them casualties of international terror.
The shootings that killed 10 persons in Virginia, Maryland and Washington over 21 days last October showed people that killers can seek them out anywhere.
Three persons died and two were wounded in Virginia, leaving residents more vigilant, Mr. Warner said.
"Virginians will respond if they see something suspicious," Mr. Warner said.
That came through in a conference call Wednesday with 166 elected and administrative officials across the state to discuss the possibility of terrorism connected to the onset of bombing in Iraq, Mr. Warner said.
"I think we are responding in an orderly and appropriate manner. I think Virginians are stepping up in terms of their vigilance but also in continuing to go about their daily lives," he said.
Public school leaders have come to the realization that the possibility of terrorism and the necessity of security against it is just part of public education in the 21st century, said Frank Barham, executive director of the Virginia School Boards Association.
"We don't hear from superintendents or school boards that they are panicky or over-excited, but I have to say that business as usual these days means business as usual from a much higher level of awareness for safety and security," Mr. Barham said.
Businesses have stepped up their attention to security. Private guard and security firms in the United States have flourished into a $12 billion-a-year industry.
Houses of worship, by nature welcoming and nurturing, also have become wary. That's particularly true at synagogues, where news of suicide bombings in places such as crowded markets and buses in Israel hits especially hard.
"Jewish people are more attuned. That's probably a fair statement," said Philip Rovner, executive director of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation in Virginia Beach.
At synagogues, strangers are questioned and asked for identification, Mr. Rovner said.
The same goes for people making deliveries or providing services such as repairs.
"We're a pretty tight community, as I suspect most religious communities are, so you see the same people on a routine basis, and if you are not someone known to people who allow access to the buildings, you're going to be asked to provide some ID.
"The whole purpose of homeland security is to keep people on their toes," Mr. Rovner said.
It's not paranoia or hostility, Mr. Rovner said. It's simply life in these times.

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