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August 31, 2015

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Terrorism expert says Las Vegas a top target

Richard Beasley said during a talk Wednesday night that he and other panelists weren’t there to shock anyone.

But when Geoffrey Williams, FBI supervisory special agent, said that he believed Las Vegas was the No. 3 terrorism “threat city” in the country, there was a feeling of unwelcome awareness in the room.

“Beyond New York and Washington, D.C., I would challenge anybody to say there’s a city that, if you perpetrated an attack, would attract more media attention,” Williams said. “Between the Strip, Nellis complex and Hoover Dam, we’re a huge threat city.”

Williams was one member of the panel at UNLV’s forum, “The Current Threat Posed by Domestic Terrorists.”

The panel also included FBI Supervisory Special Agent Beasley, Metro Police Lt. Gregory Damarin and Kevin Favreau, the FBI’s Las Vegas division special agent in charge.

The forum was hosted by Metro Police, the FBI’s Las Vegas division, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas.

Beasley, an agent with the Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force, talked to the audience of some 100 people about a 1999 case involving a man named Buford Furrow Jr.

Furrow walked into the lobby of a North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills district of Los Angeles and shot and wounded three children and two adults; he later shot and killed a Filipino mailman.

Beasley said that Furrow, a white supremacist who became “racially aware” while attending Rancho High School in Las Vegas was an example of a “lone wolf,” someone who commits violence in the name of a group or ideology but does so on their own without instructions from any particular group.

Furrow was sentenced to life in prison.

“It’s good for people to know that there’s lone wolves probably walking around out there right now,” Beasley said. “They’re probably the most dangerous ones that are out there.”

Williams, the supervisor of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, said the task force categorizes domestic terrorist groups into left-wing groups — for example, the Weather Underground, Earth Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front — and right-wing groups — neo-Nazis, white supremacists, sovereign citizens and anti-abortion extremists.

“Right-wing groups or individuals target individuals based on race, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” Williams said. “Prior to 9/11, domestic terrorism events had killed more Americans than international terrorism.”

Williams also said a majority of domestic terrorist events in Nevada occur in the northern part of the state and are mostly by sovereign citizens — those who declare themselves above state and federal laws.

Damarin said people are recruited by domestic terrorist groups through the Internet, prisons, schools, special events such as rallies and even cultural events.

Damarin said the best way for parents to prevent their children from being recruited is to constantly monitor them.

“I’m all up into my kids’ business all the time,” Damarin said. “You have to pay attention to your kids. You have to be nosy. You have to look and see what they’re doing, what they’re hiding in their bedrooms.”

Damarin also recommended monitoring what children do on the Internet.

John Cantor, a landscaper for Eldorado High School and member of the National Guard, attended the forum to stay informed about homeland security.

“I think it is important that we here in Las Vegas be aware that we could be a target,” Cantor said. “Everything was very informative here tonight. Hopefully they’ll have more forums like this.”

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