Officials: Security increased as Sept. 11 nears
The New York City Police Department is intensifying security around the city in the days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks because "we want people to know they are safe," the department's top intelligence and counterterrorism official said Wednesday.
Authorities in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk said Wednesday that there are no credible terror threats to the region in the days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — but NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said the NYPD is still treating the occasion as "an elevated threat environment" because of propaganda from al-Qaida and other terror groups.
What to know
- The New York City Police Department is intensifying security around the city in the days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
- Authorities in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk said Wednesday that there are no credible terror threats but they are still treating the occasion as “an elevated threat environment."
- Security will be especially tight when President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit lower Manhattan on Saturday for 9/11 events.
The terror groups have been emboldened by the fall of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban as well as the 20th anniversary of the attacks, said Miller, who said they are issuing louder and better organized calls for action than in previous years.
"Our counterterrorism deployment around these days will not just be at the 9/11 Plaza, at the U.S. Open where we have a very layered counterterrorism deployment, but around the city, because this time of year, of course, we have to pull out all the stops," Miller said during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily press briefing. "And we have stepped it up this year not because of specific information about something in New York, but because we want people to see it, we want people to know they’re safe."
Suffolk police also said there are no credible threats as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, but the department is working with other law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD, to protect residents and will take any necessary precautions to preserve public safety.
"The department has extensively trained its employees, acquired specialized equipment and participated in numerous exercises to better protect the residents of our county from a variety of threats," according to a statement from County Executive Steve Bellone.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder also said there are no credible threats against the county as a result of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 or the Jewish holy days.
"The police department is increasing their patrols around all areas of concern, which includes large gatherings and houses of worship," Ryder said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the department will work with local, state and federal agencies to keep the peace.
"We are constantly sharing and receiving new information in real time with our partners in law enforcement across every level of government," Curran said in a statement. "We are especially cognizant of this year’s anniversary."
De Blasio said the NYPD will beef up deployments across the city in the days ahead. Security will be especially tight when President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit lower Manhattan on Saturday for 9/11 events. The president is also scheduled to visit the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where planes also crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.
"We are watching, because we know the ways of the terrorists," de Blasio said. "We understand this anniversary is going to be on their minds. too."
The NYPD has been working with federal, state and local law enforcement partners for months to develop what Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso called "a robust security overlay for the upcoming ceremony marking the 20th anniversary."
Materasso said counterterrorism resources used to ensure public safety include explosive-detection dogs and instruments, heavy weapons teams, license plate readers, radiological and chemical sensors and cameras. Magnetometers will be used to screen every visitor to the 9/11 Plaza, and the bomb squad will sweep the site before the event.
"There will be measures in and around the World Trade Center site that the public will see," Materasso said, "and there will be many that they won’t."
The mayor warned residents and visitors not to use drones to take video or photos of the 9/11 ceremony in lower Manhattan or elsewhere in the city. It is illegal to fly drones in the city, Materasso said.
"The operator could face criminal and civil penalties and the drone would be confiscated," she said. "So, we please ask you, don't do it."
With Nicole Fuller