U.S. steps up security at ‘soft targets,’ including hotels

UNITED STATES A week after reports that al Qaeda terrorists are looking to poison hotel buffets in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the government is increasingly focused on countering terror threats at so-called “soft targets,” including hotels, shopping malls and public transportation.

The new focus on soft targets is not directly tied to the alleged hotel-poisoning scheme, but it is an acknowledgement on the part of U.S. officials that extremists are thought to be turning their attention from major 9/11-style attacks to a campaign of smaller, harder-to-defend offensives.

“We look at so-called soft targets—the hotels, shopping malls, for example—all of which we have reached out to in the past year and have done a fair amount of training for their own employees,” Napolitano said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

“What we have to do is say, well, what other ways are they thinking to commit an act, because our job is not only to react, but to be thinking always ahead, what could be happening,” Napolitano said. “And so we have enhanced measures going on at surface transportation, not because we have a specific or credible threat there, but because we know, looking at Madrid and London, that’s been another source of targets for terrorists.”