De Blasio, Cuomo ride subway to reassure New Yorkers no credible terror threat

After the Iraqi prime minister said his government had uncovered a plot to attack subways in New York and Paris, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed what's being done to counter any terror threat.

Mark Lennihan/AP
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a news conference on a subway platform, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 in New York. The governor joined N.Y.C. public-transportation chief Thomas Prendergast and took the subway from the World Trade Center to Penn Station, where Cuomo told New Yorkers, 'I'm riding the system, and so should every New Yorker.'
Adrees Latif/Reuters
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio exits a subway train while on his way to a news conference in New York September 25, 2014. De Blasio said in front of a high-traffic subway stop. 'There is no immediate credible threat to our subway system.'

State and city officials scrambled to reassure millions of New York City commuters after the prime minister of Iraq announced Thursday that his government had captured Islamic State militants who indicated the rogue terror group was planning attacks on New York City subways and the Paris Métro.

Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) responded with symbolic subway rides, each saying separately that there was “no specific, credible” threat to America’s largest municipal transportation system.

To reassure New Yorkers, both said the city’s sprawling subway system, which transports more than 4 million commuters every day, would have an increased presence of “heavy arms” and military-style patrols. This will include the New York City Police Department’s “Hercules” units, who carry machine guns and wear Kevlar helmets and are accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs. Officials also said they would be enhancing their surveillance on the some 7,000 security cameras spread throughout the city.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters outside the United Nations headquarters in New York that his government uncovered an Islamic State plot to attack transportation systems in the United States and Europe after the arrest of French and American fighters for the terror group that has conquered wide swaths of territory in Iraq and in Syria.

“Today while I'm here, I'm receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks ... on metros of Paris and US," Mr. Abadi said. “They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq.”

The security scare came just a day after Governor Cuomo held a press conference at ground zero with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and announced a series of new heightened security measures that both states are undertaking as the US and its allies continue to escalate their bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

With the 9/11 Memorial as a symbolic backdrop on Wednesday, Cuomo called such heightened security measures the “new normal” for the region, announcing that the visible presence of heavy arms and increased bag and vehicle checks would be forthcoming.

In another symbolic gesture Thursday, the governor joined N.Y.C. public-transportation chief Thomas Prendergast and took the subway from the World Trade Center to Penn Station, where Cuomo told New Yorkers, “I'm riding the system, and so should every New Yorker." He also said, "There is no credible information about any specific threats to the New York City subway system.”

Hours later, Mayor de Blasio and New York Police Commissioner William Bratton also took the subway from City Hall to Union Square to reassure commuters.

“With the evening rush hour about to begin, I have a simple message for all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in front of a high-traffic subway stop. “There is no immediate credible threat to our subway system. I say that with confidence, people should go about their business as they normally would.”

Commissioner Bratton reminded New Yorkers that the city has already been under the most intense security alert this week as more than 100 world leaders, including President Obama, were attending the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the UN Climate Summit.

Even so, Bratton said, the city was responding to the Iraqi prime minister’s statement with even more security measures. In addition to the increase in Hercules teams in many of the city’s 450 subway stations, local precincts stepped up their patrols on subway cars throughout the system.

“We err always on the side of caution and preparation,” Bratton said.

The increased militarized police presence and enhanced surveillance should reassure New Yorkers, de Blasio and Cuomo both said, emphasizing that the transportation system was not in imminent danger.  

“Terrorists want us to live in fear,” de Blasio said Thursday. “We refuse to live in fear, and we at the same time will be watching 24/7 for any indication for a problem that we have to address in a specific manner.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to