CBS News reports that U.S. intelligence is warning al Qaeda could be planning attacks in New York on Monday. The report notes Virginia and Texas are also possible targets. The credibility of the intelligence has not been confirmed, according to CBS.
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the information in his regular weekly appearance on WNYC, saying he’d been aware of the threat “for several days.”
The city had already planned to be on high alert with the marathon on Sunday and Election Day on Tuesday.
(CBS News has learned about a potential terror threat. Sources say U.S. intelligence has alerted Joint Terrorism Task Forces that al Qaeda could be planning attacks in three states for Monday, the day before the election. It is believed New York, Texas and Virginia are all possible targets. The credibility of the intelligence has not been confirmed. Courtesy of CBS News and YouTube)
“You’re going to see extensive NYPD presence. … We have a new 500-member-plus counterterrorism force, the Critical Response Command, that is the biggest counter-terror force any city has in this country,” de Blasio told Brian Lehrer on Friday morning.
“You’ll see them out in force Monday as well as a precaution. I just think New Yorkers should assume – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday is going to be a continuum of a very high level of vigilance, high level of police presence.”
The NYPD said it is aware of the report, and are taking it seriously.
(The New York City Police Department’s Critical Response Command is working around the clock to ensure that any threats to security are eliminated. Take a look at how this new elite unit operates. Courtesy of The New York Post and YouTube)
“We are aware of the information,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Public Information Stephen P. Davis told Patch in a statement.
“We have been working with the FBI through the Joint Terrorism Task Force and our Counterterrorism and Intelligence Bureaus. In every case, we take any intelligence reports regarding New York City seriously. I would point out that the credibility of those reports is still being assessed and the information lacks specificity.”
Counterterrorism officials were alerted of potential threats “out of an abundance of caution,” CBS reports. Holidays and high-profile events like Tuesday’s election provide targets for these types of threats.
CBS notes that local police nationwide were notified earlier this week that “polling places” can be seen as “attractive targets” for “lone wolf”-type attacks.
Davis re-iterated that anyone in New York who sees suspicious behavior, including at polling places, should report it to police.
“Our security remains a shared responsibility,” Davis said. “We continue to encourage anyone with any information that could be relevant to the safety of our city to contact law enforcement.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to the intelligence information on Friday as part of his briefing on security at polling stations, saying New York is “already on a state of high alert for Election Day.”
Cuomo said his office was coordinating with the NYPD and there would be “more state police, more National Guard, more soldiers on duty than ever before.” There are 700 National Guard troops on duty in New York City, Cuomo said.
The contentious campaign for Tuesday’s presidential election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton has included accusations between the candidates of foreign influence, as well as talk of meddling by U.S. intelligence agents.
Texas Statement on Potential Terror Threat
Texas Governor Greg Abbott today issued a statement following reports of a potential terror threat in Texas:
“My office is working with law enforcement officials and we are continuing to monitor the situation in close coordination with the Texas Department of Public Safety. ”
“Texans should go about their daily lives as usual, but remain vigilant over the next several days and report any suspicious activity to state or local law enforcement.”
“The State of Texas will continue to do everything it can to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today issued the following statement regarding a potential terror threat in Texas:
“While we do not typically discuss security issues, we can say that DPS is constantly in touch with fellow law enforcement and intelligence officials, including our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners.”
“DPS is continually monitoring events involving potential public safety impacts across the state and nation. We can also assure Texans that we adjust our level of vigilance to meet any potential or emerging threats, and will also adjust our security measures as threats warrant.
“As always, every citizen has an important role to play in helping to thwart illicit activity, and we encourage Texans to remain vigilant.”
“If anyone observes any suspicious activity, they are urged to contact their local authorities or report it through Texas’ iWatch program at www.iwatchtx.org or by calling 1-844-643-2251.”