Expert: Citizen Input May Have Prevented Columbus Attack

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A homeland security official says a terrorist plot to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall has been "completely thwarted" and that there's no longer a threat to Ohio malls.

Homeland Security Department Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson wouldn't give details on how far the plot may have progressed, but he tells NBC's "Today" show it's clear "overt
steps" were taken to support terrorist activities.

A federal magistrate arraigned 32-year-old Nuradin Abdi Monday on charges that Abdi conspired with admitted al-Qaida member Iyman Faris and others to detonate a bomb at a mall.

Abdi's mother, Nadifa Hassan, speaking through a translator, says her son is innocent. She says he's a very caring person who financially supported his whole family. After the initial shock of September 11th, many people went back to the business of their daily lives, but the thought at least in the back of our minds is that it can happen anywhere.

Clergyman Stephen Houston has seen terrorism firsthand. He dealt with it firsthand in a generation of religious strife in northern Ireland.

"The necessity of building less suspicion between the public and the security agencies," he says, "and yesterday in Columbus, Ohio is one fine example of how its important to have confidentiality numbers and citizens and community integration into homeland security."

Dr. Houston believes the Columbus plot was stopped because of cooperation between federal agencies and the general public.

"We need citizens and people with a balanced view of life to begin to make inroads to communities," Dr. Houston said, "and set up confidentiality situations where people can gain information which is available, and that is very apparent by the situation in Columbus."

And it isn't just a concern in shopping malls, either. It's a possibility in any area where a lot of people get together.