By Mark Hallum
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced progress had been made toward having the latest bomb protection technology installed in transit hubs to prevent attacks such as the December 2017 bombing of a tunnel between 42nd Street – Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Immediately following the December attack, Schumer called for the fast-tracking of technology in development by the Transportation Security Administration known as Stand Off Explosive Detection, which helps identify individuals with explosives by screening the natural emissions emanating from a person’s body. The technology has been in development since 2004 and was to begin testing in Penn Station this week.
“At long last and at not a moment too soon, the TSA has agreed to bring this new, potentially life-saving technology to New York City and Penn Station for testing, and so we thank the TSA for heeding the call,” Schumer said. “When I made the push to bring this technology to New York City, it was because we need to put it on the fast-track and we need to perfect it, because if it works, this is where we want it: in New York City’s busiest transit hubs.”
The Dec. 11 attack happened during the morning rush and injured four commuters, including the bomber, as they passed through a tunnel linking 42nd Street – Times Square station with the Port Authority. Akayed Ullah, 27, from Bangledesh, identified as the man responsible, had the homemade explosive device strapped to his torso, police said.
“The ability to detect concealed explosives worn by cowards looking to do us harm demands the federal government continue to put both the testing and the perfecting of this technology on the fast-track,” Schumer continued. “America’s busiest cities, like New York, are the places where these devices will save lives, and if they work as well as touted, we must pursue an expedited seal of approval that gives all of us another layer of security to fend off would be lone wolf terror. As the threats we face evolve our preparedness and response must evolve as well to remain a step ahead of evil doers.”
Ullah faces a variety of terror charges, including criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism and making a terroristic threat, according to the NYPD.
Penn Station serves as a critical transfer point for many Queens residents who commute to the Manhattan via the Long Island Rail Road.
One victim of the December attack, Veronica Chavez from Corona, escaped the attack to be treated for minor injuries at Mount Sinai West.
“There was smoke everywhere and debris falling,” Chavez told the Daily News following the experience. “My ears were ringing. They haven’t stopped ringing. All I kept thinking is, I want to see my children again. If something happened to me, who will care for them?”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall