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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 27, 2001

The September 11th attack
Regional terrorism task force formed

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

The makeup of the hastily organized task force on terrorism is deliberately murky, but its mission is crystal clear: Keep track of any and all potential terrorist threats against the United States that may have a Hawai'i connection.

Within days of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft put the word out: The 93 offices of the U.S. attorney nationwide were to organize task forces ASAP to help thwart terrorism.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliott Enoki is chairman of the Hawai'i District terrorism task force, whose members he declines to identify other than to say they represent about 20 various organizations, including city, state and federal government as well as the military.

The mission, he said, is threefold:

"We are to act as a conduit for information about terrorism among the various federal and local agencies. Secondly, we are attempting to coordinate and implement a plan to address terrorism," Enoki said. "And third, we are to serve as an organizational structure for any terrorism occurring in the (Hawai'i) District."

That does not mean, however, that the task force will usurp the responsibility of the various agencies whose job it is to deal with "the consequences" of terrorism, including city, state and federal fire departments, health departments or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Enoki said.

The task force is essentially an intelligence-gathering program, he said.

Whatever task force members learn won't be passed on to the public, Enoki said, unless charges are brought and arrests are made, for instance, in the case of material witnesses.

Even then, such arrests and the warrants might be kept "under seal" or out of the public view, Enoki said.

"The task force in Hawai'i has been assembled and an organizational meeting has occurred," Enoki said.

It will not, however, meet on a regular basis, he said.

"We will meet whenever any of the members feel there is a need to," Enoki said.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8030.