The threat of a terrorist attack in the metropolitan area remains strong, with about two dozen serious plots thwarted over the past 15 years, officials said Friday at an anti-terrorism symposium.
Rep. Peter King, the keynote speaker at the event at a Jones Beach State Park restaurant, said that nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks, “The threat is still there today. In many ways the threat is worse."
“It is a time like this when our guard in some ways is down that they can attack and turn the world upside down,” King (R-Seaford) said. “We in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties are the No. 1 terrorist target in the world."
The event, sponsored by the New York Police Chiefs Benevolent Association, included two of the world’s top terrorist bombing experts, including one from Israel. The other, Long Beach native Mordecai Dzikansky, was an NYPD detective who worked and trained with Israeli terrorism authorities in Israel.
Officials from more than 50 law enforcement agencies attended the symposium, said organizer Denis Monette.
King, a former head of the House committee on Homeland Security, said authorities have prevented about two dozen specific, major terrorist attacks in the New York City area in the last 15 years.
They have included plots against sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the subway system, he said.
“Because there has not been another 9/11 people tend to think that it’s all in the past,” he said. “No, it’s not.”
He added that today “it is not just al-Qaida. It’s a good 25, 30 different terrorist organizations.”
Younger people may be more complacent about possible terrorist attacks, he says, because many who are in college today were not even alive during the 9/11 attacks.
“It’s like talking about Pearl Harbor or Gettysburg,” King said. “You don’t realize the enemy is still there.”
Dzikansky, author of the book “Terrorist Cop,” said a key to reducing the impact of terrorist attacks is what he called “mitigation.”
Simply put, that means someone such as a security guard or even a bystander intervening when a suicide bomber appears, often sacrificing their own life to save the lives of others.
“Israel survived in my eyes based on mitigation,” he said. “Because there is a difference if 30 people got killed or two people got killed.”
The other bombing expert, Shaike Horowitz, a brigadier general in the Israeli national police, said he has investigated and been at the scene of more than 150 suicide bombings.
“Each one is unbelievable,” he said, “because it’s horror pictures, and you must work.”