NYC TERROR THREAT: An unprecedented multi-agency drill is being conducted Friday morning at Grand Central and Penn stations and in Times Square in advance of the weekend’s 9/11 commemoration — amid a “credible but not corroborated” threat that radicals plan to drive bombs into New York City locations.
The squad will include officers from the NYPD, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Amtrack, NJ Transit, Port Authority and National Guard, city Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said tonight.
This would indicate the likelihood of a rail threat, but authorities by necessity didn’t go into detail.
This comes “on top of an already robust counterterrorism overlay” in advance of the tenth 9/11 commemoration on Sunday and assorted events beginning tomorrow night in Times Square, Kelly said. Indeed, the police presence throughout the city has been increasing in recent weeks and days.
Also in the morning, 30 police agencies from around the city, including New Jersey, will participate in an “Operation Century” video teleconference, he said.
NYPD Patrol, transit, counter-terrorism and traffic bureaus are being increased by a full third, Kelly said.
Citizens should not be disturbed by delays while authorities take steps to safeguard the city, the commissioner said. We can expect increased baggage inspections on subways, more vehicles with license plate readers, more bomb-sniffing dogs, “increased focus on tunnels and bridges… as well as landmark locations, houses of worship and government buildings,” he said.
More illegally parked cars will be towed. More police will ride not only the trains but the ferries.
Additional detectives from the NYPD’s Intelligence Division will be stationed to respond to the “See something, Say Something” hotline (311), Kelly said.
Quick reaction teams “comprised of heavily armed emergency service officers and a reserve of detectives “trained in heavy weapons” will fan out, he said.
Kelly spoke at an emergency news conference called by New York City Mayor Bloomberg who urged citizens to remain vigilant through the weekend in the wake of a “credible but not corroborated” terror threat.
“We know that terrorists view the anniversary as the chance to strike again,” the mayor told reporters.
Reliable sources have told reputable media sites that U.S. intelligence picked up more than idle chatter from Pakistan’s tribal regions, where al Qaeda and its current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, still hold great influence.
As a result, federal authorities are looking for several men, one who might be a U.S. citizen, believed dispatched on a suicide mission involving explosives in vehicles aimed for bridges or tunnels.
President Obama was first briefed on the threat Thursday morning, and members of Congress were briefed during the day, White House officials said.
“As we know from the intelligence gathered from the OBL [Osama bin Laden] raid, AQ [al Qaeda] has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said in a written statement. “In this instance, it’s accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information.”
According to a senior White House official with knowledge of the threat, “people are aggressively pursuing leads,” and it is “specific enough to elicit worry,” the New York Post reported.
“It feels more than aspirational,” another said of the threat.
Bloomberg touted the magnitude of protective resources around the city, “some of which you may notice and some of which you will not notice.”
Talking more like a hardened New Yorker than a billionaire three-term mayor, Bloomberg said the threat will in no way rattle the city that never sleeps.
“There is no reason for any of us us to do anything to change our daily routines,” he said, noting that the NYPD has thwarted “more than a dozen potential attacks” since 9/11.
“The best thing we can do to fight terrorism is to refuse to be intimidated by it,” Bloomberg said. “We have lived our lives without fear and we will continue to do so.
“Here’s what you gotta do: If you see something, say something, and that has always been true….Go about your business as you normally would. Just be vigilant.”
To drive home the point, Bloomberg added:
“Just for the record: I plan to take the subway tomorrow and feel just as safe as I did this morning.”
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