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Fort Erie Cited as Terror Target, Giambra Faults Homeland Security Funding Cut

By Mark Scott and Mark Wozniak

Buffalo, NY – More details are coming out regarding the operation of the terrorist operation in the Toronto area dismantled over the weekend.

Tuesday's "Buffalo News" cites Canadian court documents saying Fort Erie was one of several bombing targets being considered by the terror group. Toronto and suburban Mississauga were also on the list.

Seventeen people were arrested on Friday, including two already in prison for smuggling weapons across the Peace Bridge last summer.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra says this weekend's terrorism-related arrests in Toronto should serve as a warning to federal officials not to cut Homeland Security funding to the Buffalo-Niagara region.

This year's federal budget cuts such funding to this region by 65 percent from 2003 levels. But Giambra charges that federal officials miscalculated the area's risk factors.

"The population of Erie and Niagara Counties was understated by 20 percent," Giambra said. "The visitor population used in the risk analysis was misrepresented as 5,800 per day. The fact is Niagara Falls alone has over 38,000 visitors daily."

Giambra also said the Homeland Security Department failed to take into account such special events such as Buffalo Bills games, which attract nearly 75,000 fans to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

He's calling on the region to mount a campaign to restore the funding -- much like the one employed last year to keep the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open.