Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Local police chiefs get antiterrorism training in Israel

Police chiefs from Newton, Framingham, and Belmont headed off last weekend for a weeklong counterterrorism seminar in Israel, funded by the Anti-Defamation League.

They are joining a dozen other senior law enforcement officials from the Northeast to network and get first-hand advice from Israeli security experts.

Though there have been no successful terror plots carried out in Massachusetts since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to the federal government’s Worldwide Incident Tracking System, officials say the trip is necessary to keep law enforcement up-to-date on terrorism prevention techniques.

Framingham Police Chief Steven Carl and Newton Police Chief Matthew Cummings said they will receive their regular salaries while in Israel; Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin declined to comment.

“Homeland security begins with hometown security,’’ said Carl. “There are no particular cities or towns where terrorists congregate unless you want to stereotype them.’’

Carl pointed to the arrest last month of Rezwan Ferdaus in nearby Ashland as an example of the type of threat that could lurk anywhere in America.

“That’s right next door,’’ Carl said.

Ferdaus is accused of planning to attack the Pentagon and the US Capitol building using remote-controlled airplanes carrying explosives. He has pleaded not guilty.

The 15 seminar participants were scheduled to meet in Israel with police officials and first responders, including police along the Lebanon border, the head of security at Malcha Mall in Jerusalem, and officials at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital, to learn about emergency preparedness. They also were to attend a briefing on airport security at Ben-Gurion airport.
Officers on the trip also planned to visit holy sites, and have an opportunity to learn about the region’s history. All costs, including meals, are covered by the ADL.

“Given the security situation in Israel and their experience in dealing with terrorist attacks against civilians, the Israeli authorities are uniquely equipped to discuss and share counterterrorism strategies with American law enforcement,’’ said Derrek Shulman, New England Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, in an e-mail.

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