NYPD says terror threat complex

2014-09-09 22:35
Smoke rising from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers, in New York City. (File, AP)

Smoke rising from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers, in New York City. (File, AP)

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New York - Air strikes in Iraq, ongoing unrest in Syria and the beheadings of two American journalists are casting a long shadow over the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

While there is no specific threat against New York ahead of the Thursday commemoration, the rising power of disparate militant groups around the world presents the most complex terrorism danger since the twin towers were destroyed, New York intelligence officials said this week.

"It is layer upon layer upon layer - not all coming from the same place or ideology," said John Miller, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism.

That differs from five years ago, when the risk was chiefly from al-Qaeda, Miller said. Now, he said, the threat is also coming from the well-funded, highly sophisticated "mass marketing of terrorism" - affiliate groups, foreign fighters, uprising militants and the idea of "al-Qaeda-ism."

"When you look at the level of sophistication, the amount of slickness applied to their video production, the amount of thought that goes into creating a narrative," he said, "They're doing the same kind of thing as we've seen in commercial publishing or in the ad industry."

New York remains the top target, and that makes preparing for big events, including the US Open tennis tournament, the United Nations General Assembly and the 9/11 commemoration, that much more critical, officials said. Plus, President Barack Obama plans this week to outline an expanded US campaign against militants in Iraq and Syria following the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the department is prepared.

"We will, as always, ramp up intelligence gathering and visibility," Bratton said. That means thousands of officers in specialised teams, bomb-sniffing dogs who can detect not only the scent of a bomb but the vapours of a moving target, undercover officers and teams of police using radioactive detection devices and other high-tech tools.

Intelligence officers around the globe will be reporting in regularly and monitoring events around the world. If something happens in Gaza, it's instantly felt in New York because of the large Jewish and Palestinian populations.

"Things ricochet real quick here," said intelligence chief Thomas Galati.

The private anniversary ceremony will be held on the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum plaza on Thursday morning. The tribute has centred on reading the names of the nearly 3 000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in the 2001 attacks, as well as recognizing the six people killed in the 1993 trade centre bombing.

But for the first time, the memorial plaza will be open to the public this year from 18:00 to midnight.

Read more on:    nypd  |  us  |  terror attacks

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