An alleged plot to attack global subway systems has United States officials and New York residents on their toes. The plot was revealed on Thursday by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who claimed to have “credible” intelligence of such a plot by Islamic State militants.
According to al-Abadi, who spoke during a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Islamic State militants captured in Iraq said the group has been planning attacks on subways in Paris and in the U.S.
“We are aware of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s statements and are in contact with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners as we assess the validity of this threat,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos stressing that, at this point in time, no such threat has been verified.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD, he said, are on top of it.
Still, some local riders say the threat – valid or not – has them looking over their shoulders.
“I think it’s really scary,” said longtime Bay Ridge resident Eileen Fitzpatrick who relies on the New York City subway daily to get her to both work and school. “I’m on the train almost every day and I’m constantly thinking about how horrible to would be for the subway to be attacked. That’s where most of New York City is; it’s the core of our city.”
For Ridgeite Michael Williams, the threat is just another reminder to live.
“[An attack on the subway] is definitely a constant fear, and it has been even before ISIS came about,” he said. “But the subway is what makes New York City as special as it is, and we can’t continue to live in fear.”
Elected officials agreed.
“Over the past few weeks we have already begun to increase security at mass transit sites and other key areas in the New York City area as part of a bi-state security enhancement in partnership with Governor Christie,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo stressing that his administration has been coordinating at a “high level” with local, state and federal partners. ‘Public safety is paramount, and we are doing everything necessary to protect New Yorkers.”
Both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio took to the subways to show riders their confidence in the system’s safety, though their trips were exclusively within Manhattan, drawing a barb from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who expressed “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.
“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,” Adams went on. “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.”
Nonetheless, Adams – a former police captain — said, he was “confident the NYPD, in partnership with state and federal authorities, will raise their high standards for securing our residents to an even greater level. As New Yorkers, we cannot afford to dismiss any threat; our continued awareness and attentiveness is needed as we go about our daily business.”
“The NYPD will remain in close contact with the FBI and other federal partners as we assess this particular threat. 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,” wrote NYPD Community Affairs in a statement, reminding readers to, as always, say something if they see something.