Super Bowl security tight after Paris attacks, no specific threat seen

Mon Feb 1, 2016 2:29pm EST
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By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Super Bowl 50 will be one of the most highly guarded sporting events in U.S. history as security services pile resources into preventing any repeat of the deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, although officials have said there is no specific or credible threat to Sunday's game in the San Francisco Bay Area.

November's attacks in the French capital by gunmen linked to the Islamic State militant group included suicide bombings near entrances to the national stadium as a soccer game was underway, provoking fears of attacks targeting crowds attending big sporting events elsewhere.

Federal U.S. security officials are tight-lipped as to how their plans differ for this year's National Football League (NFL) championship game from previous Super Bowls, where security is always tight.

But hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agents are moving into the Bay Area in the week leading up to the game, to be held at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, some 50 miles (80 km) southeast of San Francisco.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be deploying commando-style SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams, officials said, as well as bomb experts and evidence collection technicians so that specialists are in place should the worst happen.

"This is a high-profile target," said David Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco field office. "A terrorist group would receive a great deal of publicity (if they attacked it), which is what they are looking for."

The game is expected to attract more than 100 million viewers in the United States and millions more around the world.

The FBI will have helicopters and planes in the air over the stadium, Johnson said, and security will be tight at game-related venues such as an NFL exhibit in downtown San Francisco and practice fields used by the teams in the week leading up to the game.   Continued...

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) celebrates after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports