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Louisiana Sheriff Trains Volunteers for 'Project Exodus' to Combat Terrorism

'There's not a state of paranoia, or anything like that'

by Doug Stanglin

A Louisiana sheriff has begun training 200 local volunteers in basic hand-to-hand combat techniques as part of Project Exodus aimed at protecting the northwestern corner of the state from the danger of terrorists, the Shreveport Times reports.

Reporter Drew Pierson writes that Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen's policing plan  involves "a mostly white group of  ex-police volunteers and a .50-caliber machine gun" and was inspired in part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.

"The buck stops with Larry Deen," the sheriff says, according to the Times.  "The liability stops with Larry Deen. I am the chief law enforcement officer in this parish, and it is incumbent upon me protect all of the people in it."    Deen rejects any notion that he is setting up a militia. "We run from that word," he says. "We're just the opposite that word."

Doyle Dempsey, chief deputy for support services, says in the training video that if the project is successful "we will be ahead of the curve when it comes to fighting Islamic extremists."

The volunteers will be equipped with shotguns, riot shields and batons, the newspaper says. A .50-caliber machine gun will be mounted on what the sheriff's office calls "the war wagon."

Five of the 200 volunteers are black, the Times says. Women will be used only in a "support role," Deen says, indicating non-combat activity.

The teams of  "highly trained volunteers" would be used to protect food, water, oil, gas and medical supplies in the event of a disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, in which state and federal resources are limited. 

"We want to make sure that never happens here," he says.

   Deen elaborates on Operation Exodus on his website here.

 An excerpt:

As evidenced by recent terror threats, it is apparent that homegrown terrorists are in our midst. With the easy accessibility of the Internet, it is quite possible that these local and international terrorists can form a national or multiple location attack on our nation at any given moment. And no matter whether we are a direct target or not, fear and panic will still permeate our community. Control will have to be regained to ensure the safety of our residents. That is where Operation Exodus comes into play. It utilizes preventive measures to safeguard Bossier Parish from the fear and outcry that will inevitably transpire.

Update at 1:26 p.m. ET: TPM Muckraker's Zachary Roth reports sheriff's office spokesman Ed Baswell told him that there have been intelligence reports showing that there have been "cells" and people operating within the parish "that have been trained as terrorists or went overseas to be trained as terrorist."

"It tells us that these are the kinds of thing we can't assume are happening far, far away," Basell said. "Terrorists can tend to strike anywhere and everywhere."

"There's not a state of paranoia, or anything like that," he added.

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