By Calvin Palmer
As the great exodus begins for the Thanksgiving holiday, Police in New York are stepping up security of the city’s subway and train systems following a warning from the FBI of a possible terrorist attack during the holiday season.
The FBI has received a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report that al-Qaeda terrorist may have discussed in late September attacking the subway system.
A source told the Associated Press that the threat may also be directed at the passenger rail lines running through New York, such as Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road, which are particularly busy with Thanksgiving holiday travelers.
A U.S. counter-terror official said senior government officials have been briefed because the FBI recently received credible information about possible attacks over the holiday season and authorities are particularly concerned about this long holiday weekend.
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko confirmed that his agency and the Homeland Security Department had issued a bulletin on Tuesday night to state and local authorities and the information is being reviewed.
Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said the warning was issued as a routine matter but added there may be an increased police presence in New York and other large cities.
The discussions by al-Qaeda are said to have involved the use of suicide bombers or explosives placed on subway/passenger rail systems.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said they have received an unsubstantiated report and as a result have “deployed additional resources in the mass transit system.”
Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said authorities “have very real specifics as to who it is and where the conversation took place and who conducted it.”
“It certainly involves suicide bombing attacks on the mass transit system in and around New York and it’s plausible, but there’s no evidence yet that it’s in the process of being carried out,” King said.
Homeland Security spokesman Knocke said the warning was issued “out of an abundance of caution going into this holiday season.”
No changes are being made to the nation’s threat level, or for transit systems at this time. “However, transit passengers in larger metropolitan areas like New York may see an increased security presence in the coming days,” he said.
The increased security presence could include uniformed and plainclothes “behavior detection” officers, federal air marshals, canine teams, and security inspectors, Knocke added.
[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]