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Homeland Security Advocates, Jewish Group Call for Increased Security Spending After Terror Plot

05/22/2009 -Homeland security experts and a Jewish group are calling for more homeland security funds from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after the arrest of four suspected domestic jihadists planning to bomb two synagogues in New York City and attack military airplanes at Stewart International Airport, 60 miles north of the city.

This fiscal year, Congress increased the amount of homeland security funds to $798.6 milion delivered to cities under DHS's Urban Areas Security Initiative after scaling back the program in 2006, reports Fox News. But there's one catch: DHS still hasn't restored New York City's grant amount to its 2006 levels.

The grant for New York was cut to $124 million from about $207 million in 2006. This year New York received $145 million, up from $144 million last year and $134 million in 2007.

The terror plot, planned by four petty criminals whom the New York Daily News reports are described as "wanna-be terrorists"by prosecutors, shows New York City deserves more funding, say some homeland security experts.

Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland School and Law and the director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security, told Fox that "We're prepared to spend trillions of dollars to bail out financial institutions, and the effectiveness of that is questionable," adding, "Here we're talking about tens of millions of dollars. ... The money is better spent beefing up our defense than pouring water down the hole for these failing institutions that is not helping the economy."

But Randy Larsen, director of The Institute for Homeland Security, said New York City had squandered the antiterrorism grants by using them for police overtime and photo-ops. A reduction in antiterrorism grants doesn't have to hurt the city's readiness if they're used efficiently and responsibly, he said.

The broken plot, however, has also elicited calls for more funding from one of the plotters' targets. The Riverdale Jewish Community Council, two of whose houses of worship were targeted,released a statment, arguing “This incident demonstrates the need for the Department of Homeland Security and other relevant agencies to expand the funding of security grants for religious institutions and houses of worship. High-density, high-vulnerability areas like New York ought to receive all resources necessary to protect themselves.”

Prosecutors say the four suspected homegrown terrorists hatched their terror plot to avenge the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as to kill Jews. The Los Angeles Timesreports the people around the four arrested men say they were all "regular guys."

The Associated Press has  profiles of the four alleged terrorists.

♦ Photo byStorm_Crypt/Flickr