Police Considered Jackson Case “Soft Target”

The Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce website describes the community as "A place to live. A place to play. A place to prosper."

For about four months in 2005, the small town about 200 miles northwest of LA was described as a "soft target" for terrorists.  Newly released documents show Santa Maria police had major safety concerns because of the Michael Jackson trial.

The documents were released Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press and other media. They reveal police concerns about a terrorist attack stemming from the 2003 arrest of Jackson.

The Santa Maria Police Department asked for FBI "involvement" after Jackson was arrested for child molestation.

Police, according to the FBI, said they believed the court case would be a "soft target" for terrorism because of "worldwide media coverage."

The FBI concluded there were no threats.

The documents also mention the presence in an early court appearance of "The Nation of Islam, represented by its security unit Fruits of Islam," and of a "New Black Panther Party'' member whose name was left blank in the files.

The files also show that the FBI's legal office in London assisted local authorities with a child molestation probe in 1993 and in 1995, U.S. customs officials asked the FBI to analyze a VHS tape as part of a child pornography investigation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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