Mayor Bill de Blasio and counter-terrorism bosses for the NYPD said at a press conference on Wednesday that there are 'no specific, credible threat
Mayor Bill de Blasio and counter-terrorism bosses for the NYPD said at a press conference on Wednesday that there are ‘no specific, credible threats’ to New York City ahead of events to remember 9/11 on its 20th anniversary.
John Miller, the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, warned that the NYPD was still treating events around the 9/11 anniversary with ‘elevated threat’ levels after al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban issued new propaganda with ‘calls to action’ that could lead to terror attacks.
‘It is worth restating for the third time, there is no specific credible threat to 9/11 or the events around it,’ Miller said.
‘We’re treating this as an elevated threat environment. So absent specific information why, here’s why: We’ve seen the specific call to action this year, the louder and better organized counterterrorism groups than we have seen in prior years.’
Miller said that the terrorist groups have been more vocal this year ‘probably’ because this historic 20th anniversary.
‘But it also comes at the same time as the fall of a U.S.-supported government in Afghanistan, the return of the Taliban and other factors that are stirring those conversations,’ Miller said.
John Miller, the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, warned that the NYPD was still treating events around the 9/11 anniversary with ‘elevated threat’ levels
He said the NYPD has counted ‘more than a dozen significant propaganda releases’
Miller said that after such publications, counter-terrorism experts have seen three significant terrorist events around the world
Two-thirds of them come from Al Qaeda, and many of those propaganda releases have been geared towards English language audiences
Miller, an expert on terrorism known for conducting a May 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, said the NYPD has counted ‘more than a dozen significant propaganda releases.’
He said many of those propaganda releases have been geared towards English language audiences. Two-thirds of them come from Al Qaeda – which has, along with ISIS, suffered significant losses in its commanding control in recent years.
‘So we are paying attention to that drum beat. We’ve seen the al-Qaeda magazine Wolves of Manhattan – which is named for the 9/11 hijackers – come out with a new issue,’ Miller said.
‘We’ve seen the Inspire guide, another terrorist publication, circulating. We’ve seen a trailer for an Al Qaeda film that’s supposed to come out soon. So we take note of all of that and factor that into our threat assessment and plans.’
Miller said that after such publications, counter-terrorism experts have seen three significant terrorist events around the world.
‘Obviously, the attack on the [Kabul] airport in Afghanistan. Another attack involving a knife and multiple victims in Auckland. But one closer to home in Plano, Texas,’ Miller said.
There were 13 U.S. service members and at least 92 Afghans killed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport by at least one ISIS-K suicide bomber on August 26, just days before the end of American occupation in the country.
Just three days later, a Lyft driver in Plano was shot and killed when she went to pick up a passenger in a case being investigated by Dallas FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
In Auckland, New Zealand, a Sri Lankan national was shot and killed by police last Friday after he stabbed six people at supermarket in an attack officials said was inspired by ISIS.
‘We look at each one of these to examine what propaganda was the driver, who was behind it and we are always scanning our environment. Those incidents aren’t linked in any way, except for the common thread people are acting on ISIS propaganda.’
Miller added: ‘So starting on the premise that there is no specific, credible threat – we operate on the idea that there is a threat out there and we have to continuously hunt for that before the event, during the event, after the event and not just at the event, but around the city.’
Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso outlined the precautions the NYPD was taking for the 9/11 ceremony on Saturday while noting police are ‘much better equipped, trained and prepared to prevent a terrorist attack in the city’
Bill de Blasio said: ‘We are watching because we know the ways of the terrorists, we understand this anniversary is going to be on their minds too’
Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso outlined the precautions the NYPD was taking for the 9/11 ceremony on Saturday while noting police are ‘much better equipped, trained and prepared to prevent a terrorist attack in the city.’
‘There will be measures in and around the World Trade Center site that the public will see, and there will be many that they won’t,’ Materasso said.
‘This plan has been in development for many months, and it couldn’t have happened without the seamless coordination between all agencies and organizations.’
She said the NYPD will use explosive detection canines, heavy weapons teams, explosive detection instruments, license plate readers, radiological and chemical censors, and ‘countless’ cameras to monitor and thwart terrorist activity.
‘Magnetometers will be used to screen every person that enters the plaza. Our bomb squad will be at the World Trade Center site prior to the event and will remain for the duration,’ Materasso said.
‘The Joint Terrorism Task Force will investigate any threats prior and during the ceremony. We will have plainclothes officers around the perimeter of the site to locate and suspicious people or activity.’
De Blasio noted during the press conference that the city does not allow drones to be flown near the World Trade Center site.
‘Ground Zero, not just on Saturday, but every day is not a place for any visitor or any resident of the city to ever use a drone,’ de Blasio said.
‘Some people, ostensibly innocently, have had drones and used them in that area to take photos. Unacceptable, not going to be tolerated. They are going to be confiscated, that’s not the place. It’s too sensitive and too much has happened. I just want to make that very clear.’
Materasso noted that the NYPD will have counter-drone detection teams that will mitigate if necessary – and drone operators could face criminal and civil penalties.
‘The eyes of the world will be on New York City, which means we have to take extraordinary precautions to protect all New Yorkers,’ de Blasio said.
‘I want to say the most important thing up front, as of this moment there is no specific and credible threat directed at New York City. We have an extraordinary counterterrorism capacity; we are watching all the time.’
He continued: ‘We’re going to have deployments all over New York City in the days ahead and particularly on 9/11, not just at Ground Zero but all over New York City. And we are watching because we know the ways of the terrorists, we understand this anniversary is going to be on their minds too.’