Saturday, October 08, 2005

Heightened Security on NYC Subways

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Heightened Security on NYC Subways

Camp Machaneh Moshiach in the subway, on way to mivtzayim
(Newsday) With a security clampdown in the city's subway system continuing indefinitely, a city official said Saturday that three men arrested in Iraq in connection with a suspected terrorist plot were believed credible because they are not low-level insurgents, are well-connected outside of their country and had traveled abroad.

The three men, whom authorities have not identified and who are being questioned by U.S. forces, were believed to have planned to leave Iraq and travel through Syria to arrive in the United States on Friday and deliver a London-like bombing on or around Sunday, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
(Read more in full article)

The many Chassidim of the Rebbe now staying in New York for Tishrei went on their regular Mivtza tefillin rounds on Friday, despite the threat, keeping in mind the words the Rebbe often quoted:  "The nations of the world will see the name of Hashem upon you and will fear you."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who spoke to reporters at a press briefing Saturday in Astoria, continued their staunch defense of the decision to ramp up subway security.

"Over the last couple of days, we've become more convinced that the threat was real," Bloomberg said just before the kickoff of the Columbus Day Parade in Queens.

A Defense Department informant in Iraq who leaked the plot to authorities said that as many as 19 people were aiming to detonate explosives concealed in briefcases, suitcases or baby carriages in the subway system, law enforcement officials have said.

"There was something being attempted," said the city official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Of course, we don't know if they would have made it."

Little was known about a fourth person who officials said may be in the New York City area, having entered the country from Syria. It remaine! d unclear if the person actually exists.

"We did precisely the right thing based on the information that we have," Kelly said of the threat and the city's response to it.

Added Bloomberg: "If you make a mistake in the other direction, the consequences are much too tragic."

Since Thursday, when federal and city officials went public with word of the plot, federal officials have pointedly expressed doubt about the credibility of the threat information.

In a slight shift of emphasis Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff released a statement saying he "respects the mayor's judgment and believes that the security precautions being taken by Mayor Bloomberg and other New York officials are absolutely an appropriate response."

But a Homeland Security department spokesman said federal officials still believe the threat to be unconvincing.

"The intelligence community's assessment of this threat has not changed; although speci! fic, it continues to be of doubtful credibility," department s! pokesman Russ Knocke said.

Kelly and Bloomberg said increased security in the labyrinthine subway system, which has nearly 470 stations, will remain indefinitely.

"You are not going to see the same face twice," the police commissioner said. "We continue to change it. We'll cover different locations with different resources."

The mayor said, "Every day we are going to change what we do, so it's not predictable."

Bloomberg downplayed the date of Oct. 9 for the purported attack, saying there was "nothing magical about tomorrow."

Most straphangers interviewed Saturday said they remain undeterred about taking the train.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," said Virginia O'Brien, 31, a consultant from Astoria. "They have said this stuff before and nothing has happened, so I just keep going. I don't know what else to do."

Tiffany Winston, 23, a student from the Moshulu section of the Bronx, said she will take the train Sunday if ! she needs to.

"I'd still get on the train," Winston said. "Life's got to go on."

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