Terror Threat To City Subways May Have Been A Hoax
By: NY1 News
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CNN is reporting Tuesday that the potential terror threat that has led to tight security in the subways since late last week may have been a hoax.
Sources tell CNN the informant who originally told authorities about the supposed threat to blow up New York City subways with explosives hidden in baby strollers or luggage gave false information.
Three men captured in Iraq on that information were given lie detector tests, and authorities say there is no evidence they were planning to travel to New York, or had been in contact with operatives here.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says there was no way of knowing just how real the threat was, and he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are defending the decision to increase security.
“We are going to keep this city safe to the maximum possible extent we can, and if you see our police officers out on the street, in the subways, and that deters you, that is exactly what we are trying to do," said Bloomberg.
“We're all about deterrence here, we're all about prevention. That's why we kicked in what we did on the 4 to 12 tour on Thursday," said Kelly.
State and local authorities learned of the potential threat in a memo issued by the Department of Homeland Security last Wednesday and made public by the Associated Press. The memo said the attack might be carried out by operatives, "who may be in the New York City area.”
Despite warnings from officials in Washington D.C. that the threat was not credible, Bloomberg and Kelly told the public about the alleged plot to smuggle explosives into the subway system.
Security was heightened in the city as a result of the threat, with police officers conducting more random searches of backpacks, bags and baby strollers, as well as more subway car sweeps.
Now that the FBI has determined the threat was probably not real, the city is reducing that security. The NYPD says it will still conduct random bag searches in the subways, even though the number of officers is being scaled back.
Democratic hopeful Fernando Ferrer says he has questions about the heightened alert.
"I do not believe we ought to be stinting one iota in keeping New York City safe, in keeping our mass transit system and all of its riders safe,” said Ferrer. “Now that he alert has been taken down, I think it's appropriate, as I have said before, that the mayor and the police commissioner give us more clarity on the reasons why they sounded the alarm in the first place."
Ferrer said he wasn't claiming the mayor's timing was a political ploy to distract attention from criticism over Bloomberg’s decision to forgo the mayoral debate in Harlem.
However, two law enforcement groups who are backing Ferrer asked just that, and called on the mayor and the police commissioner to explain why they waited to deploy police officers.
“Why did we wait until Thursday, an hour and a half before a boycotted debate that he was receiving pressure for, to make an announcement in the heart of rush hour?” asked NYPD Capt. Eric Adams of the group 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement.
Bloomberg says he delayed the press conference so as not to jeopardize operations in Iraq, but had to go public once it became obvious security was being stepped up for Thursday's rush hour.
“Then stories started leaking out, and once stories start leaking out we have an obligation to ensure that there's not confusion among the public,” said the mayor.
While the mayor says this threat to the subways is over, his critics seem to have only just begun questioning his handling of it. And it seems unlikely that this issue will go away any time soon, at least not before the election.