In the wake of U.S. bombing of terrorist sites in Afghanistan and Sudan on Thursday, Ventura County's military bases have enacted heightened security measures.
Officials at the Naval Construction Battalion Center at Port Hueneme and at the Point Mugu naval base said they were ordered by the chief of naval operations to increase security for an indefinite period.
"The little information I have is that we have increased security procedures worldwide [that are] appropriate to the current threat levels," a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon said.
The spokesman declined, however, to say how long the heightened security order would be in effect. He said the measures would not stop or seriously delay several thousand civilian employees from getting to their jobs at the county's military bases.
Linda Wadley, a spokeswoman at Port Hueneme, said guards at the base are doing "hands-on ID checks." Ordinarily, they wave through motorists in vehicles bearing Department of Defense stickers; now they are stopping drivers and asking for identification, she said.
Wadley said other measures were in place, but she would not be specific.
Point Mugu Cmdr. H.M. Hardaway Jr. said identification checks of every driver coming onto that base had been ongoing for several years. He confirmed that added security measures were in place, but he would not elaborate.
"Point Mugu remains a safe place to work and live," said Phyllis Thrower, a Point Mugu public affairs officer.
In response to the Aug. 7 bombings at two embassies in Africa, President Clinton on Thursday ordered U.S. military attacks on an active terrorist base and a plant where agents for chemical weapons are reportedly manufactured.
The airstrikes follow repeated threats against the United States by a coalition of extremist Islamic groups supported, in part, by a former U.S. ally, exiled Saudi Arabian businessman Osama bin Laden.
In Newbury Park at the small Islamic Center of Conejo Valley, which received two dozen threatening phone calls after the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma, a mosque official said the center had no official response.
But Dr. Bader Iqbal, vice president of the center's board of directors, said center members do not condone violence and the mosque does not allow political discussions or speeches.
"My personal belief is that one of the first tenets of whichever country you live in is to follow the law and support the country," Iqbal said. "There is a very specific code in the Koran that says human beings on this planet are here for the purpose to provide kindness to other human beings. It doesn't say Muslims only."
Iqbal, a Westlake Village resident, decried the killing of innocent people in any country, whether it be at embassies in Tanzania and Kenya or in the U.S.-led attacks in Afghanistan and Sudan.
Meanwhile, 33 Seabees based in Port Hueneme who arrived in Nairobi last week to help with cleanup efforts at the U.S. Embassy there remained in Africa on Thursday, Wadley said. Neither Port Hueneme nor Point Mugu officials would say whether local military personnel were on assignment in Afghanistan or Sudan.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department did not go on tactical alert, and officials said there were no requests for increased patrols near buildings that house federal government employees.
David Nesbitt, special agent in charge of the Ventura County office of the FBI, said Thursday afternoon that the military actions had not prompted any special instructions from superiors in Washington.
For local residents who are traveling by air, the attacks will mean delays at airports--such as flights to Los Angeles International Airport from Oxnard.
"We will be checking unattended vehicles and baggage--nothing out of the ordinary but just a little extra precaution," said Rodney L. Murphy, the county's director of airports.
Chawkins is a Times staff writer. Wolcott is a Times Community News reporter.
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