While waiting for a train to take me back to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side on Thursday afternoon, I scrolled through the latest news and came upon word of a security threat to the New York City subway. The concern had its origins in brief remarks Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made at the U.N. He noted “accurate reports” from Baghdad that Islamic State terrorists were going to plan attacks against the New York and Paris subways.
New York officials know the subway remains an open target, and having seen international systems suffer attacks, they sprang to action. By the end of the day, four New York higher-ups had determined that, in the words of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, “no credible threat” existed to the subways, and everyone is itching to get more information out of al-Abadi. Still, security will be beefed up through the city over the next few days, weeks and months.
To assuage concerns, Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast hopped an E train from World Trade Center up to Penn Station and spoke of recent security improvements. The governor had previously announced a new set of anti-terrorism initiatives with New Jersey. For the MTA, this will, for better or worse, include an increase in uniformed police officer sat high volume stations by 30-50 percent, more random bag checks, additional perimeter and curbside sweeps and video of high profile locations.
“Our administration has been coordinating at a high level with local, state and federal partners. I want to assure the people of New York that we are monitoring these reports closely and are in close communication with officials in Washington,” Cuomo said.
The safety of the New York City subway has always been one of those things no one likes to ponder. We’ve seen images from Moscow and London and Madrid and countless other cities, but we’ve relied on the fact that anti-terrorism officials have stopped attacks in the planning stages (or before). For now, it seems there is in fact no credible threat, and New Yorkers can keep riding the subways as they do everyday.