New York plans to deploy more than 200 police officers at the World Trade Center site by mid-July who will focus on security for the opening of a memorial to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The amount of personnel will be increased “incrementally” as construction continues at the site and buildings are opened, and more than 600 officers may eventually be based in a command unit there, Kelly told reporters following a counterterrorism conference at police headquarters in lower Manhattan today.
“The memorial is going to be somewhat of a challenge because it will be right in the middle of an ongoing construction site,” Kelly said. “I think it will be well-protected with the new unit.”
There are no specific threats against the city, although New York has to be concerned about possible revenge attacks in the wake of the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 1, Kelly said.
“Common sense dictates that we have to be concerned about a possible act of retaliation as far as the death of Bin Laden is concerned,” Kelly said. “Obviously in the aftermath of the elimination of Bin Laden we’re continuing on alert status as is prudent.”
The 9/11 Memorial is scheduled to be dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in a ceremony for families of the victims. Occupying about half of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, it will feature two waterfalls and two acre-sized reflecting pools set within the footprints of the twin towers that were destroyed.
New York City has remained a “key target” of al-Qaeda leadership since the Sept. 11 attacks, and none of the intelligence gathered since Bin Laden’s death suggests that the terrorist threat to the city has decreased, said Stephen R. Kappes, an operating partner at Washington-based Torch Hill Investment Partners who retired last month as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Many of the al-Qaeda seniors still maintain that another crippling blow to New York City will cripple the United States,” Kappes today told members of the NYPD’s Shield counterterrorism partnership with security officials from private industry. “They think that this is the key.”