Officials debunk report of Florida cell

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 5 (UPI) -- Local, state and federal officials have rushed to refute a statement by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz that there is an al Qaida cell active in Jacksonville.

Officials said the statement was a mixture of old information and included the wrong Florida city.


"We have no credible information that would have us believe or expect there is an active al Qaida cell in Jacksonville," Duval County Sheriff Nat Glover said.

Wolfowitz appeared on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday and said the terrorist organization has active cells in many areas.

"They're burrowed into some 60 countries around the world," he said. "They have headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, and in Jacksonville, Fla., not just in Afghanistan, and it's going to take a long time to root them out."

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Tim Moore called Tom Ridge, director of homeland security.

Moore said he was told Wolfowitz was referring to information gathered in the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that showed one of the terrorists had trained at a Daytona Beach, Fla., flight school.


The White House later agreed with the statements by Glover and Moore. It said the administration has no intelligence that al Qaida has a headquarters in Jacksonville or anywhere else in Florida.

Glover said he was concerned about Wolfowitz's comments, but also was sure there was no reason to panic because he is in touch with federal law enforcement on a frequent basis.

"I was not as concerned as maybe I would have been if we hadn't been communicating as consistently every week and on a daily basis," Glover said.

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