In an emergency exercise, Illinois' State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team (SWMDT) successfully demonstrated its ability to take down a mock terrorist group responsible for several simulated attacks staged during the exercise. The scenario was part of a multi-day exercise that brought together responders from federal, state and local agencies to test response to multiple disaster scenarios.
Illinois' emergency response exercise began Friday morning with a mock rail yard explosion scenario in Edwardsville that triggered an evacuation and sheltering exercise of area residents. As part of the scenario, local law enforcement discovered evidence of explosives. In response, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, as part of the exercise, "ordered" several actions to protect citizens, including calling up Illinois National Guard troops, increasing security at critical infrastructure in the Metro East area and declaring a state disaster declaration. The Governor also approved deploying the SWMDT, which followed up on intelligence reports gathered throughout the exercise to locate and take down the fictitious terrorist group.
"The state weapons of mass destruction team's quick, effective response in this exercise scenario shows that we have the capacity to take down terrorists," said Gov. Blagojevich. "While we hope that we never have an actual terrorist attack in Illinois, exercises like this will help make sure that these teams are well-prepared if one ever occurs." Three SWMDTs are located throughout the state and a team can respond to a terrorist incident anywhere in Illinois within 60 to 90 minutes of notification.