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NYPD beefs up security after bin Laden's death

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Photo Credit: Office of the Mayor

City officials moved swiftly Monday to keep New Yorkers safe in the event that terrorists retaliate for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

While no specific threats were received and security experts believe Gotham is safer with the al-Qaida leader dead, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the NYPD immediately put its nearly 35,000 officers on alert for suspicious activity.

The cops expanded bag searches in the subways, increased patrols placed in major transit hubs, and police helicopters and harbor units were placed on watches near bridges, ferries and water taxi docks. The MTA and the Port Authority also stepped up their patrols.

Hidden from the public were the actions of hundreds of NYPD counterterrorism cops, including 11 posted overseas, and heavy monitoring by police linguists of extremist chat rooms, Kelly said.

"Our assumption is that bin Laden's disciples would like nothing better than to avenge his death by another attack in New York," Kelly said Monday at a news conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials at Ground Zero.

The police commissioner did not specify how long the heightened security measures will be in effect, only that it would be so in the "near-term."

Bloomberg said that while "there are no immediate threats against our city ... there is no doubt we remain a top target."

With no specific threat, Homeland Security officials announced no active national terrorism alert.

In fact, Karen Greenberg, executive director of NYU's Center on Law and Security, told amNewYork that New York and the country are safer with bin Laden's death.

"Should New Yorkers breathe a sigh of relief? Absolutely," she said.

Charles Strozier, director of the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the loss of al-Qaida's central figurehead leaves the group rudderless.

"To have the head of the snake cut off is significant," Strozier said. Bin Laden's "most important role was staying alive."

(with Newsday)

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