Tag Archives: New York City

BREAKING: Terrorist Sought to Blow Up The Fed

NBC 4 New York has learned that federal authorities have arrested a man they say was plotting to attack the Federal Reserve building in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from the World Trade Center site.

The man is in custody in New York. Sources tell NBC 4 New York that the suspect, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, lives in Jamaica, Queens.

Nafis, 21, was arrested Wednesday morning after he drove a van that he believed to be loaded with explosives from Long Island to Lower Manhattan. The man left the van near the Federal Reserve building and was then arrested by the FBI and NYPD.

Law enforcement officials stress that the plot was a sting operation monitored by the FBI and NYPD and the public was never at risk.  The explosives had been rendered inoperable, officials said.

“Two of the defendant’s ‘accomplices’ were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent,” said FBI Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan.

Sources say the suspect was acting alone in the plot against the Fed, which is located at 33 Liberty St., three and 1/2 blocks from ground zero.

He is expected in court later Wednesday.

“Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure, “Galligan said. “The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences.”

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Judith Miller: NewYorkistan?

They had ambitious dreams, these guys. They would astonish the world, making it big by killing lots of American soldiers overseas in Somalia or at home in America. Worst case: they would die as holy warriors and become, if not rich, famous.

“My soul cannot rest til I shed blood,” Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, the 20-year-old, American-born son of Palestinian parents, told his putative partner in crime, Eduardo Almonte, 24, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal district court this week. Alessa considered fellow Muslim Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the naturalized U.S. Army psychiatrist who gunned down 13 fellow soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood last November, a nut and an amateur. “I’ll do twice what he did,” Alessa vowed. “I wanna, like, be the world’s known terrorist.”

Fortunately, Alessa was plotting not only with Almonte, but also with an undercover officer from the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division, who was…READ THE REST HERE.

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NYPD Undercover Unit Key in NJ Terror Arrests

Kudos to the AP for telling the country why the NYPD is so successful. Here’s hoping that other metropolitan centers follow suit.  I’m writing on this myself soon for huffingtonpost.com.

Associated Press

The recent arrests of two New Jersey men who allegedly planned to travel to Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabab have drawn attention to the New York City Police Department’s counterterrorism efforts.

The undercover officer who gained the trust of the two men and helped arrest them was one of the more than 1,000 NYPD officers who have been assigned to counterterrorism duties since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. All of these officers signed up to be patrolmen with the NYPD, but were diverted from the police academy because they were young men with Muslim or Arab backgrounds. In addition, recruits that are chosen to perform counterterrorism functions speak foreign languages such as Arabic.

Instead of police academy, recruits that are singled out for counterterrorism work enter a separate training program operated by the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit. Upon completion of the program, the officers are given false names and a cover story, and are ordered to investigate leads and gather information on potential terrorist threats in or around New York City. In addition to the two New Jersey men who were arrested last Saturday, NYPD counterterrorism officers have also helped arrest the suspect in a plot to blow up Manhattan’s Herald Square subway station.

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Surprise? Obama hasn’t ruled out NY trial for 9/11 planner

Is the President talking to the Attorney General? And is either of them speaking with Mayor Bloomberg? It’s not clear what’s going on, how decisions are made, and when there will be a resolution to this issue.

By Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press Writer  |  February 8, 2010

WASHINGTON –President Barack Obama said Sunday he has not ruled out a New York federal court trial for Sept. 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but he was taking into account the objections of the city’s mayor and police commissioner.

The Obama administration has come under withering attack, mainly from Republicans, for a decision by his Justice Department to try the terrorist mastermind in a U.S. court near Ground Zero, site of the attack that destroyed New York’s World Trade Center.

Obama said using the traditional judicial method was a “virtue of our system” in which Americans should take pride.

He also defended his decision, noting again that the administration of former President George W. Bush had handled terror suspects arrested in the United States in the same way.

“They prosecuted 190 folks in these Article III courts, got convictions and those folks are in maximum security prisons right now. And there have been no escapes,” Obama said. “And it is a virtue of our system we should be proud of.”

Later Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded: “Based on the security, logistical and cost concerns raised by the mayor and the police commissioner, it is not feasible to have the trials in New York. The administration should realize that and move on.”

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Bloomberg presses Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to step up city’s anti-terror funding

Mayor Bloomberg took the time yesterday to point out to Secretary Napolitano that New York City is the nation’s Number One terrorist target. It’s hard to argue with him on that point.  Recall that after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Islamic terrorists in the city were arrested by the NYPD/FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force before they could implement further attacks.  They had intended to detonate large bombs at, among other locales, the United Nations headquarters and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.  One can only hope that there won’t be a documentary some day after another attack on NYC that shows Secretary Napolitano brushing aside Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks.

Homeland security funding is no place for pork-barrel politics. But neither is health care, and look how that’s being handled.

Celeste Katz
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

Mayor Bloomberg on Wednesday pressed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to step up the city’s federal anti-terror funding, but Napolitano just changed the subject.

As the two sat together at a Manhattan meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, Bloomberg said New York should get more money based on its high risk of being targeted by terrorists again.

He also urged the feds to restore funding for “Securing the Cities,” a program to detect radiological threats brought into the city by terrorists.

The government must “take New York City seriously and give us the resources we need to protect what clearly is the terrorists’ No. 1 target,” Bloomberg said.

“National security is a national responsibility, and we can’t afford to let local politics get in the way, and trying to spread the money around as pork just is irresponsible at the very least.”

Napolitano acknowledged Bloomberg, saying, “I appreciate your remarks,” but did not respond on the funding fight. Instead, she switched the topic to security on the Mexican border.

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NY Times: Moving the 9/11 Trial Out of New York

What seemed like an interesting premise–printing an assortment of Letter to the Editor regarding the moving of the KSM trial out of New York City–was a bit of a disappointment to me.  There must have been more letters received in favor of moving the trial, but that’s my own speculation.

I’ll let you be the judge.  Click here for a link to the piece. AA

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NY TIMES: Site for 9/11 Trial Isn’t the Only Obstacle

By SCOTT SHANE

For much of President Obama’s first year in office, his national security team worked to devise a secure plan to send dozens of Yemeni detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the largest single group at the prison camp — home to Yemen, perhaps to a rehabilitation program.

Then came the Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt, which was planned in Yemen, and the president put all transfers there on hold.

Since November, the administration had been preparing to move the highest-profile Guantánamo prisoners — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four accomplices accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — to Manhattan for a federal criminal trial.

But overwhelming opposition from New York politicians concerned about costs, disruptions and security now has the Justice Department scrambling to come up with a Plan B, even as Congress threatens to block money to pay for a criminal 9/11 trial altogether. That could force the administration to revive the very option that the president and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had rejected: military commissions at Guantánamo for the 9/11 plotters.

For a president who campaigned on a promise to close Guantánamo, and who just missed a self-imposed one-year deadline to get the job done, the meltdown of a potential Manhattan 9/11 trial is the latest measure of the stubborn complexity of his national security inheritance.

“It’s obviously proven a lot more difficult than a lot of us expected to close Guantánamo,” said Sarah E. Mendelson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who has studied the issue intensively. She called the turnaround of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other New York officials “disappointing” and the costly security plan they proposed for Manhattan excessive, given the major Al Qaeda trials held there in the past with far less disruptive procedures.

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US Drops Plan for 9/11 Trial in New York City

Whether one is for or against a trial in New York, or whether or not one favors military tribunals over civilian criminal courts, Eric Holder’s inability to successfully guide this issue is troublesome.  Step back to 9/12/01…who would think that the capture and prosecution of the mastermind of the previous day’s events would be a dividing issue?  Bringing these animals to justice should be a time for all Americans, especially New Yorkers and, of course, the 9/11 families, to feel justice being served.  Instead, fear and confusion rule the day.
By SCOTT SHANE and BENJAMIN WEISER

The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.

“I think I can acknowledge the obvious,” an administration official said. “We’re considering other options.”

The reversal on whether to try the alleged 9/11 terrorists blocks from the former World Trade Center site seemed to come suddenly this week, after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg abandoned his strong support for the plan and said the cost and disruption would be too great.

But behind the brave face that many New Yorkers had put on for weeks, resistance had been gathering steam.

After a dinner in New York on Dec. 14, Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, pulled aside David Axelrod, President Obama’s closest adviser, to convey an urgent plea: move the 9/11 trial out of Manhattan.

More recently, in a series of presentations to business leaders, local elected officials and community representatives of Chinatown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly laid out his plan for securing the trial: blanketing a swath of Lower Manhattan with police checkpoints, vehicle searches, rooftop snipers and canine patrols.

“They were not received well,” said one city official.

And on Tuesday, in a meeting Mr. Bloomberg had with at least two dozen federal judges on the eighth floor of their Manhattan courthouse, one judge raised the question of security. The mayor, according to several people present, said he was sure the courthouse could be made safe, but that it would be costly and difficult.

The next day, the mayor, who back in November had hailed the idea of trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other accused Sept. 11 plotters in the heart of downtown Manhattan, made clear he’d changed his mind.

The Obama administration official said the decision to back out of plans for a New York trial had broad support but had not yet been made public.

Jason Post, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said Friday night that the mayor would have no comment until the Obama administration had made an official announcement of its intentions.

Told of the administration’s decision, a spokesman for Mr. Kelly said, “We were not aware of that.”

But the spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said of Mr. Kelly: “He is of the mind that such a decision would give us some breathing room, but that New York has to remain vigilant because it remains at the top of the terrorist target list.”

“It is obvious that they can’t have the trials in New York,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, New York’s Democratic senior senator.

Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks on Wednesday set off a stampede of New York City officials, most of them Democrats well-disposed toward President Obama, who suddenly declared that a civilian trial for the 9/11 suspects was a great idea — as long as it didn’t happen in their city.

By Friday, Justice Department officials were studying other locations, focusing especially on military bases and prison complexes, and no obvious new choice had emerged.

The story of how prominent New York officials seemed to have so quickly moved from a kind of “bring it on” bravado to an “anywhere but here” involves many factors, including a new anxiety about terrorism after the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day.

Ultimately, it appears, New York officials could not tolerate ceding much of the city to a set of trials that could last for years.

“The administration is in a tricky political and legal position,” Julie Menin, a lawyer who is chairwoman of the 50-member Community Board 1 that represents Lower Manhattan, including the federal courthouse and ground zero, said of President Obama and his Justice Department. “But it means shutting down our financial district. It could cost $1 billion. It’s absolutely crazy.”

Ms. Menin said the turning point for her came when she heard Mr. Kelly’s security plan and cost estimates: hundreds of millions of dollars a year. “It was an absolute game-changer,” she said. She wrote a Jan. 17 op-ed article for The New York Times proposing moving the trial to Governors Island off Manhattan; that idea did not catch hold, but the article escalated the outcry against a Manhattan trial.

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BREAKING: Bloomberg Wants Terror Trial Moved

Al Baker – New York Times

For the first time, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has spoken out against plans to stage the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed at the federal courthouse in Manhattan, joining a growing chorus of people who believe the epic trial will be too disruptive and expensive for the city.

“It would be great if the federal government could find a site that didn’t cost a billion dollars, which using downtown will,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” he said. “Can we provide security? Yes. Could you provide security elsewhere? Yeah, and I mean — the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one. Relatively easy to supply — to provide security. They tend to be outside of cities so that they don’t disrupt other people.”

Mr. Bloomberg is not the only one pondering a military base as the place for a trial. Leaders of Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan also want the government to study the feasibility of holding the trial elsewhere within the Southern District of New York.

On Tuesday evening, the group’s full board voted 42-to-0 to ask Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to consider a list of alternative sites. They include the Unites States Military Academy at West Point, the National Guard Base at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh and a federal prison in Otisville.

The Southern District of the federal court system covers Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and five other downstate counties.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, said she wanted the federal government to seriously study the costs, security implications and the overall impact to the communities in each of those areas, to “start a dialogue” about moving the trial out of Lower Manhattan.

“We are looking at military installations because they provide a political compromise between those who favor a less public setting, i.e., a military tribunal and those who favor a federal court trial, so what we are recommending is that a federal judge would preside in one of these military settings,” Ms. Menin said on Wednesday. “I’m trying to think outside the box solutions that are still jurisdictionally, within the Southern District and may provide additional security if they are on a military installation.”

Community Board 1 represents the Seaport and financial districts of Lower Manhattan and Tribeca, Battery Park City, and parts of Chinatown, as well as Ground Zero.

Of plans to hold the trial at the federal courthouse in Foley Square, Ms Menin said that the site “is next to the financial district, which is the financial capital of our country.” She added: “why on earth would we have the trial in the heart of the financial district when it has already been attacked twice by terrorists and when our country is on the verge of trying to recover from the economic recession?”

Ms. Menin said the board’s resolution would be sent to elected officials, including Senator Charles S. Schumer and others.

Adding to the chorus of opposition, the city’s oldest real estate trade association on Wednesday said that the trial would “wreak havoc,” on Lower Manhattan and the commercial and residential property owners there. After working behind the scenes for more than two months to urge state and federal officials to consider other locations for the trial, the group, the Real Estate Board of New York, has launched a Web site, MoveTheTrial.com, to urge the public to get involved.

Already, in a joint statement, a list of politicians, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Councilwoman Margaret Chin, have urged an alternative site, one less harmful to “our already overburdened Lower Manhattan neighborhoods.”

“We are extremely disappointed by Mayor Bloomberg’s callous dismissal yesterday of a potential alternative location,” for the upcoming trial, those leaders said in a joint statement last week.

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