New York City Boosts Security Before Jewish New YearHenry Goldman and Chris Dolmetsch
New York City police stepped up surveillance of Wall Street, Times Square, subways and rail stations before the start of the Jewish New Year as terrorists from the Islamic State warned of attacks.
Increased deployment of police augmented by National Guard troops in camouflage at the Port Authority Bus Terminal are just some of the visible manifestations of heightened security.
Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Davis said that while there was no evidence of a specific threat, the NYPD had a duty to respond to concerns stemming from warnings on social media by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.
“We have to address not only the actual threats but the perceived threats, and the inordinate amount of attention to the perceived threat of terrorism has required us to do our part to offset public concerns,” Davis said today in an interview.
Officers and tactical squads will be deployed at synagogues on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 for Rosh Hashana, Police Commissioner William Bratton told Jewish leaders in a security briefing yesterday. The heightened alert will remain in place through the end of the month during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Similar measures have been in effect since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“One of the reasons why those 56 million tourists keep coming here despite all the chatter is that the city is safe and we are confident that we can continue to keep it safe,” Bratton told reporters after the meeting. He said there was “no direct actionable intelligence” indicating an attack was likely in Times Square or anywhere in the city.
At the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has its own police force to guard its midtown bus terminal, PATH trans-Hudson rail lines, bridges and tunnels, spokesman Joseph Pentangelo said the agency “remains vigilant,” without discussing details.
Among the NYPD’s 35,000 officers in uniform, 1,000 are dedicated to counter-terrorism, and each has received yearly training in detection, deterrence and response to a catastrophic terrorist attack ever since almost 3,000 perished in the Sept. 11 assault on the World Trade Center.
“Though we know of no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland at present; we know that ISIL is prepared to kill innocent Americans they encounter because they are Americans -- in a public and depraved manner,” U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security yesterday.
Johnson met with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Mayor Bill de Blasio Sept. 15 for a rare joint gathering, followed by a news conference at which the officials vowed to pool resources and share information to protect the region against a terrorist attack.
At the meeting, which occurred less than a week after President Barack Obama said the U.S. would begin air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Cuomo said, “the risk of a threat to us has increased.”
De Blasio described the city as a prime target of Islamic terrorists, who attacked the World Trade Center twice, in 1993 and 2001, and have attempted at least a dozen thwarted acts of terrorism since 2002, according to authorities.
On the 13th anniversary of Sept. 11 one week ago, de Blasio said he marked the day to think “about the people we’ve lost, but also to think about our obligation to keep their families safe going forward.”