Asia-Pacific security expo
draws experts to Waikiki

How to protect communities from terrorist attacks and natural disasters topped the agenda yesterday for about 600 security officials and experts gathered in Waikiki for the Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit & Exposition.

The state-sponsored gathering aims to give officials the chance to meet and exchange ideas. Some 30 vendors, including several defense contractors, took advantage of the opportunity to exhibit their wares.

Maj. Charles Anthony, a spokesman for the Hawaii National Guard, said the 50th state was a natural place to host a regional security gathering.

"We are the gateway to the Pacific. We are a plane ride away from areas we know to have had terrorist activity," Anthony said.

Delegates from 33 countries from Cambodia to Canada registered for the three-day conference. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Pacific Command and other organizations were expected to join from the United States.

The agenda included talks on the possibility of suicide bombers targeting the United States, how to protect ports without disrupting international trade, and terrorist threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

Kelly Mundell, a general manager at defense contractor WFI Government Services Inc., said heightened security awareness was generating more interest in the products he marketed.

"The timing of the situation now couldn't be better to come to government-type conferences, especially after Hurricane Katrina," Mundell said.

WFI and partner Tactical Survey Group Inc. set up shop in a booth to display a three-dimensional computer guide they made of the Hawai'i Convention Center on behalf of the National Guard.

The company's high-technology maps enable SWAT teams, firefighters and other emergency workers to respond swiftly to crisis situations.

Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert with the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore, told delegates terrorism was a problem that would not dissipate soon.

"Like Afghanistan produced the last generation of terrorists, Iraq will produce the current and future generations of terrorists," Gunaratna told delegates.

Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit & Exposition

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