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Profile: Sarasota Police Department
Sarasota Police Department was a participant or observer in the following events:
Zainelabdeen Ibrahim Omer, a Sudanese man, tells police in Sarasota, Florida, he is concerned that a friend of his may pose a threat to President Bush, who is spending the night on nearby Longboat Key and is due to visit Sarasota today. After he contacts the Sarasota police, Omer is visited by some officers. He tells them that on the previous evening he talked to a friend of his, who he identifies only as “Gandi.” He says Gandi is in Sarasota with two companions, with the intention of getting a friend of theirs out of jail. Omer is apparently concerned that Gandi may be a danger to Bush while he is visiting the area. He says Gandi “has made several remarks in the past that indicated extremely violent thoughts.” He adds that, considering the man’s “past inclinations,” the fact that Gandi is in Sarasota at the time Bush is visiting the area “might not be coincidental.” The Sarasota police officers will contact the Secret Service, whose agents then question Omer about his concerns. Police officers and Secret Service agents will visit an address on 32nd Street in Sarasota, where they find 11 Arab men apparently at morning prayer. One of the men has a card for the Longboat Key Club, which is near the resort where Bush has been spending the night (see September 10, 2001). The men will be questioned, held until Bush has left the area, and then released. It will later be reported that Gandi has links to the guerrilla group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. However, an unnamed law enforcement source will tell authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan that there is “nothing to indicate” the 11 Arab men questioned by the police and the Secret Service are linked to the 9/11 plotters. [Sarasota Police Department, 9/11/2001; Sarasota Police Department, 9/11/2001; Summers and Swan, 2011, pp. 457] While Bush is staying on Longboat Key, several Middle Eastern men reportedly arrive at the resort where he is staying and falsely claim they have an interview with him arranged (see (Before 6:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). And at 8:50 a.m. on September 11, a local man will see a van in Sarasota with two Middle Eastern men screaming out the windows, “Down with Bush” (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Longboat Observer, 9/26/2001]
The Secret Service is concerned that President Bush might be the target of a terrorist attack while he is being driven to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and provides extensive security to protect him during the journey. [LBJ Presidential Library, 9/3/2013; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] Bush and his entourage left the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, at around 9:35 a.m. to be driven to the airport, where Air Force One is waiting (see (9:34 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 39] Bush’s Secret Service agents have arranged extensive security measures to protect the motorcade during the journey. Dave Wilkinson, assistant special agent in charge of the presidential protection division, will later describe: “We asked for double-motorcade blocks at the intersection. Double and triple blocks. Not just motorcycle officers standing there with their arms up, but vehicles actually blocking the road.” [Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] Additionally, the vehicles in the motorcade are driven at around twice the normal speed, going at 80 to 85 miles per hour instead of the usual 40 to 45 miles per hour. [LBJ Presidential Library, 9/3/2013] Furthermore, Secret Service agents in the motorcade “all had weapon barrels that were visible and they were pointing up at the ready position in case they needed to be used,” according to Officer Kevin Dowd of the Sarasota Police Department. [BBC, 9/1/2002] The Secret Service is specifically worried that a suicide bomber might be nearby and try to crash a truck bomb or a car bomb into Bush’s limousine. Edward Marinzel, the head of Bush’s Secret Service detail, has therefore arranged for the Sarasota Police Department to mobilize every available patrol car and, as it travels to the airport, the limousine is surrounded on all sides by these cars. The hope is that they will block any suicide attack on the vehicle, should one be attempted. [Rove, 2010, pp. 251; LBJ Presidential Library, 9/3/2013] The Secret Service is also “using the limos [in the motorcade] as a shell game, to keep the president safe” during the journey, Wilkinson will say. [Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016]
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