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Theme parks get video jolt after arrests

U and Mouse fun spots unfazed by possible al Quaeda threat

Two Hollywood icons, Disneyland and Universal Studios, turned up in what are believed to be terrorist videos Tuesday, but law enforcement gave studio officials no information leading them to tighten the already heightened security measures at the two theme parks.

Patrols around San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge by the California Highway Patrol were, however, doubled Tuesday as a result of the seizure of the videos.

Spanish police arrested three Syrians on Tuesday suspected of being al Qaeda members, including one who had videos of the California theme parks, the World Trade Center, New York’s Statue of Liberty and the Sears Tower in Chicago.

After press reports appeared early in the day Tuesday suggesting that California state officials had alerted local police and theme park officials of the video seizure and arrests, studio officials did speak with both local police and the FBI.

“We have daily contact with law enforcement at various levels, but nothing we were told on Tuesday suggested that we needed to increase security or cordon off the (Disneyland) area,” Disney strategic communications rep Leslie Goodman told Daily Variety Tuesday night.

Similarly, a corporate rep for Vivendi Universal said that company has since 9/11 implemented “a significant number of measures on the Universal Studios property” which are “vigorously enforced.”

Both execs stressed that unless more specific information about a possible threat resulting from the arrests and seizure, there was no reason to change their security procedures.

“This is not a new thing. We have had since Sept. 11 consistent heightened security and unless law enforcement suggests something specific (about thislatest incident in Spain), we’ll continue with our already tight measures,” the Viv U rep added.

Within an hour after the news of the arrests in Spain surfaced, California Highway Patrol officers fanned out Tuesday to talk to police in the local jurisdictions, George Vinson, Gov. Gray Davis’ security adviser, said.

But Anaheim Police spokesman Rick Martinez said it never happened.

“No, we have not heard from them,” he said.

Martinez also refuted assertions by the California Highway Patrol that they were coordinating special patrols around Disneyland with the Anaheim Police Department.

“I can confidently say that nothing out of the ordinary is taking place,” he said. “However, nothing is ordinary since Sept. 11.”

For Disneyland and Universal Studios, Vinson said, the state notified the Anaheim and Los Angeles police departments. Those offices, in turn, notified the security departments for the two theme parks.

Disneyland officials said they were not alerted by either agency.

Investigators have previously found similar video tapes, maps and pictures — though not of California sites, Vinson said.

Vinson said he had no further information from interrogations of the three Syrians.

Two of the suspects were arrested in Madrid and the other in the eastern town of Castellon, the Spanish Interior Ministry said. They were identified as Ghasoub Al-Abrash Ghalyoun, Abdalrahman Alarnaot Abu-Aljer and Mohamen Khair Al Saqq. Ghalyoun and Abu-Aljer had Spanish nationality, police said.

The ministry statement said Ghalyoun belonged to the radical Muslim Brotherhood and had been arrested in Spain in April but later released.

“The form and type of recording go beyond touristic curiosity as shown by two of the tapes, which are entirely of different angles from different distances of the Twin Towers in New York,” the statement said.

Other videos were extremely violent and showed Islamic fighters training in camps and during combat scenes in Chechnya, the statement said.

It was not immediately clear why Ghalyoun was released in April or re-arrested Tuesday.

The arrests were ordered by a Spanish judge as part of an operation begun last year with the detention of more than a dozen people across the country between November and April.

Spanish authorities are trying to figure out what Mohamed Atta, the Sept. 11 ringleader, was doing during two trips to Spain months before the attacks.

Meanwhile, Vinson said California will now fine-tune its terror response plan in keeping with the security plan announced Tuesday by President Bush.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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