Anti-terrorism grants to aid 10 religious organizations

Baltimore County groups to share $400,000 in funds

February 12, 2005|By Andrew G. Sherwood | Andrew G. Sherwood,SUN STAFF

Ten religious organizations in Baltimore County will receive federal anti-terrorism grants to improve their security, county officials announced yesterday.

The organizations, nine Jewish synagogues and schools and one Muslim group, will receive grants of up to $50,000 for security enhancements such as closed-circuit television systems, vehicle barriers and bulletproof glass, officials said.

Ben Greenwald of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore described the funds as a necessity.

"These handouts are sobering," he said, "but they are a sign of the times."

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said 30 organizations applied for the grants.

Officials said funding was allocated for nonprofit organizations that demonstrated a high risk of terrorist attack based on specific threats of international terrorist organizations, prior attacks against similarly situated organizations, the symbolic value of the site as a highly recognized American institution or the role of the institution in responding to terrorist attacks.

Russell Strickland, deputy director for operations at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said a committee made up of members from the organizations requesting need decided how the $400,000 would be distributed.

MEMA and the Baltimore Urban Area Workgroup, an organization of emergency-preparedness officials, administer the grant program.

Smith said the effort is one of the first of its kind in the nation.

"We're prepared for and able to prevent the kind of security challenges our communities face in this 21st century," Smith said.

The 10 Baltimore County grant recipients are: Adat Chaim Congregation, Bais Yaakov School For Girls, Beth Israel Congregation, Beth Tfiloh Congregation, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Har Sinai Congregation, the Islamic Society of Baltimore, the Talmudical Academy, Temple Emanuel Synagogue and the Torah Institute.

Nine organizations in Baltimore City received similar grants, Smith said.

Salah Oweis, vice president of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, said the organization was grateful for the grant.

"We, the Muslim Americans who are part of this great country, as much as we receive, we will contribute," he said. Oweis said the grants would be used for security improvements to the society's building in Woodlawn.

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