New York City

NYC subways targeted in ISIS terror plot — NYPD, FBI evaluating threat level

BP Adams: 'Disappointed' in focus on Manhattan

September 25, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Passengers on the R train in Brooklyn. Photo by Lore Croghan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that there may be “imminent threats against subway systems” in the U.S.

According to published reports, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the subway systems in New York City and Paris have been targeted by the Islamic State group ISIS.

The U.S. has not confirmed the assertion, however. A law enforcement official told NBC News they first heard of the subway plot in the media.

“We are aware of the report and are treating it with the utmost precaution,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Our administration has been coordinating at a high level with local, state and federal partners. I want to assure the people of New York that we are monitoring these reports closely and are in close communication with officials in Washington.”

John Miller, NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said in a statement on Thursday, “We are aware of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s statements and we are in close contact with the FBI and other federal partners as we assess this particular threat stream.

“New York City normally operates at a heightened level of security and we adjust that posture daily based on our evaluation of information as we receive it,” he added.

At an afternoon press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio csaid that city officials have found no specific threat.

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Threat to Brooklyn overlooked?

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he was confident the NYPD and state and federal authorities, “will raise their high standards for securing our residents to an even greater level.”

 But he said he was disappointed that Cuomo and de Blasio appeared to emphasize Manhattan subway riders and “ignore” the threat to Brooklyn residents.

 “I do want to express my disappointment in Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for missing the mark today on assuring this entire city, not just those in Manhattan, that their security is a top priority,” Adams said.

 “The fact is that their symbolic subway rides followed the typical pattern of ignoring the impact that terror concerns have on Brooklyn and the other boroughs, which are also potentially at risk. I look forward to hearing more specifics on the particular security measures that are being put in place to keep Brooklynites safe should harm come our way.”

In 1997, police arrested terrorists planning to detonate bombs in the Atlantic Avenue subway station, serving 10 subway lines and a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) terminus. The plot was foiled by a pre-dawn raid in Park Slope.

Dozens of heavy granite bollards have been placed around the LIRR terminal to prevent bomb-filled trucks from crashing into the station.

Security at Barclays Center, which sits atop the station, is a major concern. Major disaster drills by FDNY and U.S Marine Corps personnel have taken place within the arena.

Joint NY-NJ planning

Cuomo said that over the past few weeks New York and New Jersey have begun to increase security at mass transit sites and other key areas in the New York City area as part of a security partnership with New Jersey’s Governor Christie.

“The New York City area has always been a top target for terrorists wishing to spread hatred and fear, and we would be in a state of denial to say that what is going on internationally has not raised that danger,” Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday.

“You’re going to see an increased police presence on multiple levels – State Police, MTA, Port Authority, K9 units, more baggage checks – so commuters, citizens will see an increased presence. That shouldn’t raise anxiety. If anything, that should provide a calming effect.”

Over the next 100 days, “a surge in law enforcement and military personnel will join forces within the metropolitan area to engage in counterterrorism operations by increasing visibility, inspections and surveillance on and at trains and train stations, airports, landmarks, and bridges and tunnels,” according to a statement issued by the Governor’s Office.

Additionally, New York and New Jersey will participate in a joint emergency exercise in the coming month.

On an average weekday, the NYC subway system carries more than 5,000,000 passengers.

Previous terrorist plots

There have been 16 known terrorist plots against New York City since September 11, 2001, according to the NYPD.

In 2003, al-Qaeda had planned to release cyanide gas into the subway system and in other public places. The plan was called off by Osama bin Laden’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to U.S. officials.

In July 2006, the FBI revealed it had uncovered a plot involving an attack on a PATH commuter train tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey.

In summer of 2008, a terrorist said he spoke to al-Qaeda about targeting the Long Island Railroad using a suitcase bomb that would be left in a car and set to detonate.

In September 2009, the New York City subway system was targeted for attack by three individuals who planned to set off bombs in the subway during rush hour shortly after the eighth anniversary of 9/11. The plot was thwarted through an intelligence tip received by the FBI and with the cooperation of the NYPD through the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

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