Is South Florida a Terrorist Hot Spot?

Rafiq Mahdi, the prayer leader of Masjid Al-Iman, said the cases here have raised concern among the 250 to 300 worshippers who gather every Friday night at the suburban mosque.

"We don't mind the scrutiny. We do want it to be carried out with a degree of recognition of our civil rights as individuals," Mahdi said. He said Muslims want security concerns to be handled "with a zeal and not a bias."

Observers say the county's growth and diversity have added a layer of anonymity for potential wrongdoers. Recent census figures show Broward County's population grew nearly 30 percent during the past decade to more than 1.6 million.

Others point to the proximity to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and the Port of Miami, two of the state's busiest ports, and the region's airports and flight schools.

"There's not that much feeling that you need to say 'Who is this?' because it's just accepted that it's a transient society down here," said William Marina, a Florida Atlantic University historian.

The post-Sept. 11 world has led the Broward County sheriff's office to work more closely with federal law enforcement to share information and training. "Now we're all shifting gears together to pay more attention to terrorism issues," spokeswoman Cheryl Stopnick said.

—The Associated Press

Frustration Mounts in Terror War

W A S H I N G T O N, June 24 — Everyone in Washington agrees the war on terrorism is much bigger than Osama bin Laden. Everyone is sure his al Qaeda group will carry on even if he is never seen again.

But they want him — and now.

Frustration over the missing man behind the Sept. 11 attacks spilled out Sunday when members of Congress sized up the threat his network still poses to America regardless of whether he is dead or alive.

"If he's alive," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., "I'd like him to stick his head up and let us get a good look at him. And then I'd take it off."

"In a heartbeat," agreed Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. There was a hint of frustration, too, over other unfinished business from the fall, the anthrax investigation.

Lawmakers echoed Bush administration officials in pleading for patience, saying the case is scientifically complex.

But Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said authorities are spending too much time reorganizing themselves into an anti-terrorism bureaucracy and not enough on the bottom line: crushing al Qaeda and finding out who spread the deadly anthrax germs at home.

"I have to say we just need a renewed effort to keep our eye on both of these things," she said on the talk show circuit. "That anthrax killer is out there. We need to nab this person."

The open pining for more results in the anti-terror war was stimulated in part by an audio interview made public over the weekend in which bin Laden spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said the al Qaeda leader and most top lieutenants are alive, well and ready to attack again.

"Lot of bravado there," said Boxer, noting bin Laden did not look well at all when last seen on video.

But Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, put some stock in the claims.

"It's not surprising that there is a statement that bin Laden is still alive," he said on Fox News Sunday. "That's the best assessment of U.S. intelligence." A White House official found nothing surprising in the statement, either Graham said bin Laden might be somewhere in Pakistan's western tribal lands.

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