Security was heightened across the U.S. and at government installations worldwide following President Barack Obama’s announcement last night that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered increased police presence in the subway system during this morning’s rush hours, and directed all officers to “remain alert,” said Paul Browne, a spokesman for the department.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey increased police at its facilities, including the World Trade Center site, “out of an abundance of caution,” and directed its officers to coordinate with local, state and federal law enforcement, Christopher Ward, the agency’s executive director, said in a statement. The agency has jurisdiction over the site where the twin towers were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks sponsored by bin Laden.
“There is no doubt we remain a top target, and the killing of bin Laden will not change that,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a gathering at the World Trade Center site today. “Nor will it distract us from a mission that remains our absolutely highest priority: defending our city and country against all those who use violence to attack freedom.” The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
New York’s state Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subway system and the Long Island and Metro-North commuter railroads, also increased security across its transportation system and remains on “high alert,” Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the agency, said in an e-mail.
In Washington, riders on the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or Metro, saw more uniformed officers today. Transit police, along with other law enforcement in the area, have increased security “as a precautionary measure related to the death of bin Laden,” Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a recorded voice message today.
Washington has also boosted security at government buildings and critical infrastructure, although there are no specific threats against the city, said Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Washington Mayor Vincent C. Gray, in an e-mail today.
Amtrak police continue to “remain vigilant” and commanders are in “close communication” with federal intelligence partners and local law enforcement, Steve Kulm, a spokesman for the national passenger railroad, said in an e- mail.
The railroad is fully staffing canine teams and squads of officers trained to detect the presence of fumes left behind after someone passes through with an explosive device, Kulm said. Amtrak employees are being reminded to “be aware” and report suspicious activity, he said.
The U.S. and allies must remain “vigilant and resolute” against terrorism in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, which “struck a heavy blow” against al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta said today.
The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert effective through Aug. 1 warning U.S. citizens traveling and living abroad to the “enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan,” according to a statement posted on the department’s website.
‘Avoid Mass Gatherings’
“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations,” the statement says.
The fight against terrorism is a “long, hard war,” and the U.S. has to be “very concerned” about attacks inside the country or against U.S. installations overseas, New York Republican Congressman Peter King, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS’ “Early Show” this morning.
“We know that al-Qaeda will try to avenge the death of bin Laden and I can assure you that the American intelligence agencies and the counterterrorism agencies here in New York, the NYPD, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, are all monitoring this extremely carefully trying to anticipate what could happen next, anticipate what attack al-Qaeda might try to carry out and how we can head that off, how we can stop it, how we can prevent it,” King said.
The U.S. and Australia boosted security at their embassies around the world and Interpol told its 188 member countries to be on “full alert” for attacks to avenge the killing of bin Laden.
Patrol cars, paramilitary forces and commandos wearing bulletproof vests searched motorists and pedestrians outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the nation’s embassies would review their security and urged travelers to be on alert.
Philippine police tightened security in embassies and airports, President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda, said in a press briefing in Manila today.
Indonesia will increase security after the killing of bin Laden, especially in areas that might become “new targets,” Ansyaad Mbai, head of Indonesia’s National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said at a press briefing in Jakarta today. He declined to identify possible specific targets.
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