Stepped up security for drivers, trainsBy ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO
September 10, 2011
New York City police tightened their security net around Manhattan Friday as investigators worked to corroborate the threat of a possible terror attack in time for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 on Sunday.
Investigators were stopping traffic, increasing patrols and visiting truck and vehicle rental outfits, as well as suppliers of fertilizer and other potential explosives, for signs of any unusual activity that might relate to the latest threat about a car or truck bomb attack, said a law enforcement official.
The investigative work comes on top of an expanding security operation in the metropolitan area that spread to Long Island and other areas on Friday.
The heightened security measures were in response to a report received by federal officials Wednesday that indicated what Jan Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI office, called "specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information" about a possible terror plot on New York or Washington.
The information was relayed to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly by the Joint Terrorism Task Force on Thursday afternoon at which time he notified Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said police spokesman Paul Browne.
Congressional officials were told of the information by the White House earlier Thursday, said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
"We are taking it seriously," Browne said Friday.
The intelligence information, which sources said involved three unidentified men from Pakistan bent on a terror attack in New York or Washington, remained uncorroborated Friday.
"We've been running every single thread to ground," Vice President Joe Biden said Friday morning on ABC. "This is the first -- the first credible piece of information we've gotten. We cannot confirm it. We are doing everything within our power."
Sources said Ayman al-Zawahri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, had been involved in the planning. The three, at least one of whom was a U.S. citizen, may be traveling to the United States or have recently entered the country, The Associated Press reported.
Friday, officers at checkpoints near city bridges, tunnels, roads and key transportation hubs stopped trucks and other vehicles. Subway riders had their bags searched.
At 47th Street just west of Sixth Avenue, truck driver John Areste of Connecticut jumped out of his 18-wheeler and unlocked the trailer for police. "Don't blame the cops," Areste said. "They're doing their jobs."
As Manhattan-bound traffic merged into one lane at the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, MTA Bridges and Tunnels officers and National Guard troops toting automatic weapons searched vehicles, on the lookout for anything suspicious.
"We have security checkpoints in place, as we have had them in place since 9/11," MTA spokeswoman Judie Glave said. She added that in recent days, "We've increased our vigilance."
At Penn Station, commuters took in stride the added National Guard troops and MTA police officers. "I have no problem with it," Steve Ondras, 33, said as he waited for a train home to Syosset. "You're actually taken a little aback because they have weapons drawn, but I've come to terms with it."
The added measures would continue at least through Monday, Browne said.
In Washington, law enforcement officials said they were working 12-hour days indefinitely, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier said unattended cars parked in unusual locations risked being towed.
In Suffolk County, officials said police were also ramping up operations, including high-visibility patrols around transportation facilities like LIRR stations and on the many pathways that lead to New York City, said Police Commissioner Richard Dormer.
In Nassau, Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said police would deploy radiation detectors on roads and county borders.
The MTA said it had increased patrols by 50 percent at rail stations, bridges, tunnels, rail yards and other facilities.