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Southland Authorities On Alert For Possible Bin Laden Backlash

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(credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southland law enforcement and elected officials were advising residents to remain vigilant Monday in response to the death of al- Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, although they stressed that there were no specific threats of retaliation.

“Yesterday was a great day for America,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference at the county Emergency Operations Center. “But while we savor that victory, we have to be ever mindful that taking away the leader does not remove the organization.

“We still face significant threats,” Beck said. “But while there are no specific threats to Los Angeles, (there is) a general threat, and our obligation is to keep the city safe.”

Beck urged people who see suspicious activity that doesn’t “fit” in their neighborhoods — or in their business dealings — to call (877) A-THREAT or (877) 284-7328. However, if there is a crime in progress, people should call 911, Beck said.

“When you see something, you must say something,” Beck said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca noted that the Emergency Operations Center was staffed by representatives of numerous public safety organizations, including the LAPD, the sheriff’s department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and fire departments.

“So, we are in a seamless agreement in practice with our federal, state, and local resources, in a large area involving a total of 14 million people, (and) that means Los Angeles County and Orange County,” Baca said.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, representing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said authorities were beefing up security at some public venues, including Staples Center, which will play host to the opening game of the Los Angeles Lakers-Dallas Mavericks playoff series Monday night.

“We want to make sure that we are safe here,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti said he had spoken with Beck this morning to focus on safety for the NBA playoffs, and to review procedures for various “hardened targets” such as Dodger Stadium, the port and the airport “and other places where people gather or which have been targets in the past.”

Garcetti cautioned people not to become suspicious of others because of their appearance.

“Remember — and we want to underscore this, too — look for behavior,” Garcetti said. “It is suspicious behavior, not suspicious-looking people …”

Also cautioning prudence was Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte.

“… I urge Americans both here and abroad to remain vigilant,” she said.

“The killing of Osama bin Laden is indeed the most severe blow that has been dealt to al-Qaida, but we must never forget that there are still adherents of bin Laden that will continue his efforts to wage violent jihad against America and her allies.

“We must be prepared to repel and disrupt any retaliatory attacks that may result from this historic event,” she said.

In Anaheim, the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, welcomed news of bin Laden’s death.

“We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel,” according to a statement from the group.

“As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and al-Qaida caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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