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New York divided over 9/11 terror trials

New York has seen seven major terror trials in the past, the most of any city in America. But residents – both ordinary citizens and elected officials – appear to be split over the decision to try the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks in the city.

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The trial was also opposed by New York's Democratic Gov. David Paterson. "I think it raises the threat in our area," he said on radio station WBLS Monday, though he appeared to walk back from that position the next day.

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However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last Friday that it was "fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered."

Some independent observers don't discount the possibility the trials could make New York an even larger target.

"[W]e do know that Al Qaeda does keep trying to go back to the same well over and over," said John Bellinger III, an expert on international and national security law, in a media conference call Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations. "[T]hey might try again to disrupt this trial."

New York would look like UN General Assembly week for years to come, Mr. Bellinger said. The week is known for the enormous police presence and closed off roads triggered by the security needs of international leaders.

That concern was also raised by Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) of New York, at the Senate Judiciary Committee's oversight hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder. He said the city would run up police overtime, putting additional officers on crowd control, in the subways, and on the bridges.

"I worry about the burden on the taxpayers of New York," Senator Schumer said.

Mr. Holder agreed it was unfair for New York to pay for the additional security and said he would press to have the federal government pay the costs. As Schumer pointed out, that's what happened in 1995 at the trial of Mr. Rahman, the cleric.

Monitor staff reporter Warren Richey, Monitor librarian Leigh Montgomery and Monitor interns Tracey Samuelson and Elizabeth Ryan contributed to this report.

See also:

Who are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other accused terrorists?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 9/11 trial carries risks

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