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Press-Republican. (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) 1966-current, December 14, 1995, Image 5

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Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn88074101/1995-12-14/ed-1/seq-5/

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dli PAGEA-Si THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14r$| is : A.' By DAVID BAUPER Associated Press Writer , ALBANY, N..Y. (AP) - Attorney General Dennis Vacco has a message to terrorists: Don't eyen think about nuking New York. . The Republican, Spurred by a magazine article about how terrorists could construct a nuclear bomb, said he wants anyone found with the raw materials for such.a deviceto tie executed. Vacccsaidhe would not .want to'wait until after a disaster that dwarfs the magnitude of the Oklahoma City bombing last spring to act, \This is a really ripe area for us to take a look at using under the state law the sanction of the death penalty,\ Vacco said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. 1 A* critic was puzzled by the idea. \This is way out',\- said Norman Siegal, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. ^. The attorney general said he thought of the idea after an aide showed him a copy of the January 1996 issue of Popular Mechanics. Its cover-story, \When Terrorists Go Nuclear,\ features an il- lustration of New York City under a mushroom cloud. The article quotes experts discussing the availability of information for terrorists to build.a nuclear bomb, presuming they got their hands on the plutonium or uranium necessax-y as raw ingre- dients. t •••.\••\• . ..-.' Vacco said any unauthorized persons caught. jmmA with such fissionable material or specific triggering devices; should be subject to the death penalty. His proposal has not been drafted into bill form and he^ didn't have a complete list of materials that would apply. New York reinstated the .death penalty under Eepublican Gov. George Pataki this year. It would apply to people found guilty of the murder of police officers, prison, guards and judges, serial killings, murders committed with other felonies, such as rape, and slayings by terrorists. Applying the death penalty to someone with raw materials for a nuclear bomb would be \a huge, huge stretch,\ Siegal said. People found possessing murderous devices such as machine guns aren't subject to capital punishment, he said. \Not only would we strongly oppose it, but I don't think it's going to go anywhere,\ he said. Like Siegal, anti-death-penalty activist Danraris McGuire laughed when first told about the pro- posal. - . \This is just another example of. trying to find a problem that doesn't exist,\ said McGuire, head of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty. But Vacco, citing Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center b.ombing in New York City, said the idea of, terrorists constructing a nuclear device isn't so farfetched;.. - -••'.- \Maybe five years ago we woufd have thought . that it was farfetched that somebody would use the combination -of fertilizer and fuel- oil to blow up two . buildings,\ he said. Capture of alleged terrorist announced By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer NEW YORK (AP) - Saying 1995. has \hot been a good year for terrorists,\ an FBI official an- nounced Wednesday the capture of a man accused of conspiring to blow up U.S. planes over the Pacific Ocean. A freshly unsealed week-old 'indictment charged Wali - Khan Amin Shah with conspiring in the plot to bomb 11 Northwest- Airlines and United Airlines planes in a single day this year as they headed for San Francisco or Los Angeles. The plan was thwarted when a fire in a Philippines apartment that served as a bomb laboratory and headquarters for the plotters attracted the local police and. eventually the FBI, authorities said. At the apartment in Manila, police found an arsenal of bomb- making devices, including ex- plosive chemicals, modified tim- ing components and manuals with bomb recipes. They also found computer files with flight numbers and departure times and times for ithe detonation of bombs on the commercial flights, the indictment said. Shah, a close associate of ac- cused World Trade Center bom- bing mastermind Ramzi Yousef, is the. fourth man to be caught abroad and brought to the Unit- ed States for trial this, year, noted.New York's -FBI head, James K. Kallstrom. , The arrests, coupled with the September conviction of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine other militant Muslims on charges thatthey waged a war of urban terrorism inside the Unit- ed States, show that \1995 has ,not been a good year for ter- rorists,\ Kallstrom said at a Manhattan news conference. \By now, the message should be abundantly .clear,\ he said. 'You will be identified. You will be located wherever you hide, and you will be held account- able.\ Kallstrom said the plot to bomb planes carried the same aim as the Feb. .26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others and the urban ter-. rorism plot that sought to bomb five.Manhattan landmarks in a single day, including the United Nations. They all meant to scare the United States into changing its Middle East policies and reduc- ing support for Israel, he said. That message was found in a letter on a computer in the Manila apartment, which had been shared by Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad, the indictment said. Murad and Yousef als6 are charged wjth conspiracy in the airliner plot. \The crimes charged in the in : dictment are chilling,\ said U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who watched an innocent plea entered on Shah's behalf at his arraignment. \Their objective was to kill innocent American passengers.\ Get-tough academic plan wouldn't save much By KENNETH LOVETT Ottoway Newsservice ALBANY - The state, which spends more than $650 million a year on its college tuition assistance program, would save only a small fraction Qf\thatT15y~ cutting off students who do not maintain a C average. Gov. George E. Pataki is pro- posing that students be dropped from the TAP program if they don't keep up their grades by their third year in college. The federal government imposes a similar requirement on its • tu- ition grants. According to the governor's of- fice, 300,000 New York residents receive money for college from the Tuition Assistance Program. About 4,000 of them risk losing their TAP money next fall if Pataki's plan is adopted. The potential savings: $8 mil- lion. Administration officials defend the move. \It's not about money,\ said ~~P\a~tra-ki spokesman Micha-el McKeon. \It's about academic standards.\ The idea has sparked a debate over who goes to college and how much public support they should get. Victor Mallison; president of the Student Association of the State University, said he is alarmed at what.he sees as an attempt by the Pataki ad- ministration to limit access to college. \His sees the purposes of higher education as strictly eco- nomical,\ Mallison said. \He 'doesn't see the greater purpose, which is enlightenment.\ Pataki, however, said that students who lose their grants because of poor grades can still attend college. They just can't do it at the expense of the tax- payers. He believes economic incen- tives, both good and bad, en- courage students tp do better ac- ademically. For the record It is the policy of the Press- Repubhcan to correct error* in fact If you have personal knowledge of a mistake, contact the newsroom at 581-2300, extension 131, after lpm In a story in Wednes- day's edition, decimaL points were misplaced for Essex County property*tax rates .on the two towns^not at full-value assessing:. Newcomb should have been $28.99 per $l,000,of assessment, and Nortfh Hudson should have been *(Xr ow*™** 0 Specials • Glad Tidings $ 14.99 . • Christmas Warmth *18.^9 Spirit of the Season *22.99 Candy man Adirondack Chocolates Available DELIVERY AVAILABLE 643-2108 25 Pleasant St. Peru, NY GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH \ Plattsburgh Hotel & Conference Center is Oriering Health Club Memberships for the Holidays Swim & Work-Out Saturdays & Sundays from 12:00 Noon to 8:00 PM for Only $39.95 Single $49.95 Family Route 3 Plattsburgh, NY 12901 ' '',. \ ' : ?.\. j '-.'. ^ .. . .;','& AP PhQto Firefighters battle smoke and flames during a three-alarm fire in Brooklyn Wednesday. Sev- eral firefighters were injured in the blaze, which did significant damage to the building, but no one inside was hurt. STATION Minims*-im Thermometer barometer and humidity indicator. 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