NEW YORK—Expect to see more police and soldiers around public transportation.
New York and New Jersey governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie signed an agreement Wednesday calling for many more policemen immediately, in light of the numerous terrorist splinter cells cropping up in the Middle East, and the beheading of four hostages by ISIL terrorist group.
Under the signed papers, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is increasing its uniformed officers by 30 to 50 percent around Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, and other commuter hotspots. The new measures also have the approval of Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to his press secretary.
“Do I think that we’re going to have a New York and New Jersey that is free from a terrorist threat? No, I don’t,” said Gov. Cuomo at the press conference in 7 World Trade Center Wednesday. “This nation has enemies that are hell-bent on our destruction—constant vigilance is the watchword.”
“Gov. Cuomo and I are trying to make sure that even 13 years after September 11, no one in a position of power has any complacency,” said Christie.
PATH trains will conduct bag checks for two hours a day, and New York’s National Guard is joining up with New Jersey’s, doubling up forces to 500 strong. In addition, state troopers will be visiting branches of the Long Island, Hudson, and Harlem railroads.
In the Garden State, marine and aviation assets will guard over mass transit systems, bridges, and buildings, and New Jersey transit police will similarly appear more frequently and in greater numbers at bus, train, and railroad stops.
“Broadly, that’s going to have two effects: the first and the most important is a deterrent and the second is a calming effect on the folks that are obviously seeing the news everyday and understand where we’re standing right now,” said Christie.
Who is the Enemy?
The United States is taking an aggressive stance overseas, sending air strikes in Syria against ISIL, and the new splinter cell—the Khorasan Group.
Five other countries—Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan—joined with the U.S. in sending the strikes.
“When it was Al-Qaeda, it was identifiable. It’s almost as if the threat has metastasized,” said Cuomo, adding that, “Our response will be proportionate to the threat.”
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Maria Haberfeld, Chair of the Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College, of the many names ISIL has tried on, switching from ISIS to ISIL to IS, and of the new Khorasan Group coming out of thin air, “They’re not highly organized, unlike how they are portrayed by media. The U.S. sort of created an image for them—not necessarily the proper image.”
She explained that a leader, “even a little bit charismatic,” was enough to convince hundreds to form a new terrorist group.
Haberfeld added, “We look at a group and we make them larger than life! We gave them the new label of being the new Al-Qaeda.”
While Haberfeld agreed that New York was a top target for terrorist attacks, she preferred a different plan to adding more soldiers and cops.
“For me, it’s not so much about having cars on the bridges and adding state troopers, for me, what’s important is having a well-developed evacuation plan,” said Haberfeld. “You don’t really need a specific group—one lone wolf can create a lot of damage.”