City boosts security after announcement

By Ivan Pereira

Although there was no immediate threat against the city following the death of Osama bin Laden, the authorities said they had taken precautions this week to make sure Queens’ hot spots remained safe in the aftermath of the terrorist leader’s demise.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the NYPD was not taking any chances following the news that U.S. Navy Seals killed the leader of al-Qaeda Sunday night. Additional officers were deployed in major subway hubs, railroad stations, some places of worship and airports Monday, according to the authorities.

“Our assumptions are that bin Laden’s disciples would like nothing better than to avenge his death with another attack in New York. That is our operating premise,” Kelly said at a news conference at Ground Zero Monday.

The commissioner said an alert was issued for all officers to look out for suspicious packages and behavior throughout the five boroughs. Specific locations that got the added police presence included Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and Ground Zero.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, which maintain safety at LIRR and Metro-North stations, said they would be adhering to that order at train stations.

“In light of last night’s news and in coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement partners, we have increased security at key locations across the MTA’s transportation system and remain on high alert,” the MTA said in a statement.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the stepped-up security included bag checks, officers armed with heavy weapons and canine units.

At Queens’ airports, flights were operating normally throughout Monday, said officials at the Port Authority, which run LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports. Just like the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, National Guard troops, armed with automatic rifles, were on patrol in all three airports.

PA Executive Director Chris O. Ward, said his officers were put on higher alert at the three airports and were extra diligent in monitoring the passengers and cargo that came in through those portals.

“This response is not based on a current threat, but out of an abundance of caution until we have the chance to learn more,” he said.

Kelly said he increased harbor patrols to monitor the city’s shipping routes as well as and water taxis and other boats, so they traveled safely into the city.

Despite the elimination of America’s top public enemy, the commissioner and elected officials urged the public to keep the adage “If you see something, say something” fresh in their minds.

Queens is no stranger to terror links. Three al-Qaeda-trained young men from Flushing were apprehended nearly three years ago and charged with plotting to blow up the city’s subway system.

“The elimination of bin Laden is a tremendous blow to al-Qaeda and terrorists around the world who shared his violent beliefs,” City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) said in a statement. “However, we must remain vigilant and continue our efforts to protect our citizens from terrorist plots to kill innocent Americans.”

Connor Adams Sheets contributed to this article.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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