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."
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.
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
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."
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.