- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2004

TAPPAHANNOCK, Va. (AP) — The war on terror has turned to this tiny river town in eastern Virginia, where the FBI reportedly is investigating a person about ties to terrorist groups.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday, however, that Tappahannock is not considered a target for a terrorist attack. The newspaper quoted unnamed sources.

Virginia’s top homeland-security official and a Tappahannock civic leader said in interviews yesterday they knew nothing of an FBI investigation.

“I do not know of any details of an investigation in Tappahannock,” said former Lt. Gov. John H. Hager, who is assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness.

Mr. Hager played down any undue concern, saying any suspicions are being pursued with the nation under a Code Orange alert.

Asked about the Times-Dispatch report, Chamber of Commerce President George M. Longest Jr. said, “I have not heard that one in any of my travels.”

The person under investigation is considered a possible source of financing and other assistance for terrorist groups, the Richmond newspaper reported. The newspaper said its sources did not identify the person by name or nationality.

The investigation was under way before Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge issued a high alert on Dec. 21 for terrorist attacks, the sources said.

The seemingly unlikely link between Tappahannock and terrorism first was raised last week.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 23 that intelligence that led to the heightened security warning included broad references to large urban areas, including New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. But it said other pieces of intelligence cited much smaller locales, including Tappahannock.

That sparked concerns that Tappahannock, a historic town of 1,600 on the Rappahannock River, might be the target of terrorists intent on showing that Americans are not safe anywhere.

“It’s safe to say it’s not a target,” Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steve Flaherty said of the report.

Messages seeking comment on the Times-Dispatch report were not immediately returned by the FBI in Richmond and Washington. Law-enforcement officials in Tappahannock were not available, a dispatcher said.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI’s policy has been to follow up every tip, no matter how unlikely. The agency shares intelligence with state and local authorities to make sure nothing is dismissed prematurely.

Mr. Longest said Tappahannock residents have not been overly concerned about the reported terror link to their town, which traces its history to a visit by Capt. John Smith in 1608.

“I think people took it pretty much in stride. Obviously, everybody has a certain amount of concern,” Mr. Longest said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide