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Terrorism training manual scrapped in Florida

Officials have scrapped plans advising fire figthers, police and others to be on alert for terrorism while in homes performing other duties.  Move comes after civil rights groups chaffed at some language singling out ethnic groups.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Authorities agreed to rewrite training guidelines for a program that would teach firefighters and workers who regularly go into homes to report signs of terrorist activity.

The decision to scrap 5,000 printed brochures came a week after civil rights advocates criticized the plan. The new guidelines will remove references to particular ethnic groups.

The brochure cautioned that “multiple adult males living together, usually of Middle Eastern appearance and between the ages of 18 and 45, with little or no furnishings” could signal international terrorism.

It also called for workers to report signs of drug trafficking and child sex abuse.

“You don’t want to focus, for a number of reasons, on any one group,” said Joyce Dawley, regional director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and co-chairman of the task force overseeing the program. “A number of different groups out there are willing to hurt people.”

Authorities planned to present a list of revisions to Arab-American leaders on Friday, said Taleb Salhab, president of the Arab-American Community Center of Central Florida.

Sheriff’s Lt. Lee Massie, who helped design the program, said the brochure was a draft that was printed before it was ready.

The program probably cannot be fixed, said Scott Rost of the Orlando office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We think it should die a merciful death in the near future because of public outcry,” Rost said.