Thursday, November 6, 2008
Assassination fears for Obama
A security agent scans the area around Obama with binoculars.
Hate groups believe assassinating Barack Obama can match the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre, an expert in political terrorism says.
Grim fears about the safety of America's first black president-elect continue to build, with the country's most reviled racist group the Ku Klux Klan warning of a "race war" after Obama's election yesterday.
Monash University's Greg Barton said: "Obama is such an iconic figure that in the perverse logic of political assassination or terror he is an immensely attractive target."
Professor Barton said the fears for Obama are justified.
"You can imagine in the minds of some, killing President Barack Obama would be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than bringing down the World Trade Center towers," he told ninemsn.
"Yes, we have to be really concerned — but I think there are a lot of people on the job [to prevent it] … but he will never again have an ordinary life."
Obama received the highest level of security ever afforded to a candidate during the election campaign.
Throughout the 22-month campaign the secret service investigated more than 500 death threats against the 47-year-old African-American.
Two white supremacist skinheads were arrested last month over plans to shoot Obama and kill other blacks.
Twenty-year-old Daniel Cowart and 18-year-old Paul Schlesselman have been indicted on charges of possessing a sawn-off shotgun, planning to rob a licensed gun dealer and threatening a presidential candidate.
The Ku Klux Klan on its website "welcomed" Obama's election because "it could mean an awakening of our spirit and blood".
But the site also claimed that "this is a race war — a culture war — being waged against white people".
Victorious Obama waves to his supporters through bullet-proof glass.
The US government has already started testing new designs for a presidential limousine equipped to withstand most bomb blasts and terror attacks.
While Obama's wife Michelle — a corporate lawyer — has expressed her concern over the threats facing their family, Obama has previously said it's "not something that I'm spending time thinking about day to day."
"I think anybody who decides to run for president recognises that there are some risks involved," he said.
Four US presidents have been assassinated — Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John Kennedy.
Another eight presidents have survived "credible" attempts of their lives.
Obama has paid tribute thoughtout his campaign to Martin Luther King — the leader of the American civil rights movement who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.
Newspapers all over the world yesterday reported that Obama's elect had achieved King's dream.
But many Americans are fearful the election could ignite racist resentment.
"It a great thing but a scary thing," said 28-year-old Cincinnati nurse Natasha Johnson.
"There have already been two failed [publicised] assassination plots… there are still a lot of people who don't agree with this."
As well as the KKK reaction, "Impeach Barack Obama" Facebook groups have already surfaced on the internet, with one attracting more than 700 members.