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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Relief and fear on Washington's streets
The US Capitol
Washington was the suspected target of the attack

The revelation that US authorities have arrested a man allegedly plotting to detonate a so-called "dirty bomb" in Washington was met with a mixture of relief and anxiety.

With all the talk about intelligence failures ahead of the 11 September attacks, residents and visitors took the arrest as a sign that tightened security and efforts to reform intelligence and law enforcement were working.

But, at the same time, people were anxious, especially because of the threat of the release of radioactive material.

When Jaci heard the announcement, she was disturbed and relieved at the same time.
The Washington Monument
Washington would be a prime terrorist target

"I was disturbed because it is a possibility, especially in DC," she said, but added, "I was relieved that at least they caught him and that the systems that we have in place are working."

Since 11 September everyone has been on edge, she said, but the revelation that there was a plot to use a so-called dirty bomb to spread radioactive material was especially troubling to her.

But while she is aware that the US capital is a target for terrorism, she believes that the attacks of 11 September show that not just large cities like New York and Washington but also rural areas like the crash site in Pennsylvania can be impacted by terrorism.

And she thinks that any major city in the US, or Europe, could be a target for terrorist attacks.

Second thoughts

Steve Moore is considering moving to Washington from Charlotte, North Carolina.

As he weighs his options, the possibility of terrorist attack in Washington often crosses his mind.

He is staying near the Pentagon. This morning, he heard sirens outside his window, and he immediately thought that there might be another attack.

"I'm always concerned that someone is plotting to do something like this in this country. It's inevitable, isn't it?" he said.

Having lived here in DC when the Pentagon was attacked and seeing how people reacted to that, it makes me think twice about living in the area

Joe Vigil

He thinks that Americans are not as cautious or defensive as they should be in light of the attacks but, at the same time, he wonders what he personally can do when security alerts are issued.

Joe Vigil has lived in Washington for several years, but he wonders how safe it is to live here.

"Having lived here in DC when the Pentagon was attacked and seeing how people reacted to that, it makes me think twice about living in the area," Joe Vigil said.

And like Jaci, Monday's announcement left him with both a sense of relief but also with lingering concerns.

"I'm glad that they were able to foil something like this, but from the description of what a dirty bomb is, it makes me worry about how easy it is for somebody to do something like this," he said.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

10 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Dec 01 | Americas
23 Apr 02 | Americas
24 May 02 | Americas
26 Oct 01 | South Asia
07 Jun 02 | Americas
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