The Obama administration’s decision to slash $90 million from federal funds to fight terrorism in New York City boggles the mind. Has Washington forgotten that the city is the No. 1 terror target in the country and probably the world as the ultimate symbol of capitalism and secular life in the West?
The cutbacks pose a serious threat to Queens, which has been terror central in recent years as the geographical homeland for some high-profile cases.
Four young Muslims from Queens, including two women, have been charged with terrorist activity in the last year alone and are awaiting trial. In 2013 a Pakistani man living in Elmhurst was accused of raising money to support the Taliban and al-Qaeda groups fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The borough also produced three graduates of Flushing High School who were found guilty of plotting to blow up the subway system in 2010 as recruits of al-Qaeda.
That same year two Guyanese men were convicted of conspiring to blow up Kennedy Airport and destroy the American economy.
However disturbing the list may be, it is also a powerful reminder that the suspected plots were dismantled before any violence occurred. The vigilance of the NYPD, supported by federal anti-terrorism funds, paid off in these cases as the police worked closely with FBI and other federal agencies.
The memories of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center remain vivid in Queens, which lost more than 200 firefighters, police and office workers in the collapse of the Twin Towers. The street renamings for those who perished continue as the first responders who worked on the pile at Ground Zero are added to the list.
After Washington proposed cutting the city’s share of funding for its counter-terrorism efforts, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer in a rare rebuke of the administration called the plan “ill-advised” and “ill-timed.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he thought the budget ax was aimed at Schumer because he was one of only four senators who did not vote in favor of the Iranian nuclear deal. He warned that the rollback could make the city more vulnerable to attacks.
If true, the city’s security is not the appropriate place for political payback.
New York is on the radar of our most dangerous enemies. It is also a place where home-grown terrorists have tried to establish a foothold in Queens.
Washington should reverse the planned funding cuts and give the city the protection that we need from outside the country as well as from within our own borough.