WASHINGTON (Mar. 9)
In yet another demonstration of growing concern here in the wake of the World Trade Center bombing in New York, Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) this week introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on domestic terrorism.
Schumer, who serves as chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime and criminal justice, introduced his bill Tuesday at a subcommittee hearing examining whether recent events possibly tied to terrorism were isolated incidents or part of a growing trend.
The proposed legislation, the Terrorism Prevention and Protection Act of 1993, would “establish a new federal offense for domestic terrorism and another for providing material support to terrorists,” Schumer said.
Currently, there is no separate federal offense for engaging in domestic terrorism. Schumer’s bill would make such crimes punishable by death when they result in death.
The bill would also require “taggants,” or easily identifiable chemicals, to be used in all explosives manufactured and sold in the United States. This would aid in tracing explosives like dynamite, in the event of a terrorist bombing.
And the legislation would establish “pre-inspection stations” in international airports to help keep illegal aliens out of the country.
Schumer said in the statement that his concern was sparked by the World Trade Center late last month, the recent killings of CIA employees outside CIA headquarters in Virginia and reports of Middle Eastern terrorist groups operating in the United States.
A ‘COMING WAVE OF TERRORISM’?
At the hearing, witnesses disagreed on whether the events were part of a larger trend toward increased domestic terrorism. FBI Director William Sessions played down the events as isolated incidents, while James Fox, head of the FBI’s New York office, suggested more of an ongoing trend.
The attack at the trade center, Sessions said, is not “the opening act in a coming wave of terrorism.”
But Fox said that the incident was “organized by a large, well-known terrorist group.” He added, without naming the group, that “it’s a group that knows what they’re doing. This was not a group of ad-hoc terrorists.”
Mohammed Salameh, the first suspect charged in the trade center bombing, is a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin who is suspected of having fundamentalist ties. He has been linked to a New Jersey mosque headed by an Egyptian cleric who openly supports violence in the name of Islam.
Schumer called in January for the immediate deportation of the cleric, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. State Department officials concede Abdel Rahman was admitted to this country by mistake.
In his statement Tuesday, Schumer said he was “still waiting for a response” from the Immigration and Naturalization Service about Abdel Rahman’s status.
Last week, legislation was introduced in Congress that would bar members of the Hamas movement from entering the country.