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The 7/7 attacks: looking homeward

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 7, 2005 10:55 AM

Do you remember what happened on May 5, the day of the British parliamentary elections? A bomb went off at the British consulate in Manhattan. Reminder:

The blasts occurred at 3:50 a.m. and originated inside a cement flower box outside the consulate located at 845 Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan, said police department spokesman Noel Waters. The consulate occupies the 9th, 10th and 11th floors of the building.

Police said the devices were both toy grenades that had been altered to explode by the addition of black gunpowder. Police made the conclusion after piecing together the shrapnel.

The blasts shattered a panel of glass in the building’s front door and ripped a one-foot chunk from the planter. The department’s bomb squad was at the scene and streets were closed in the area.

The attack has still not been solved. Was it a dry run?

Can’t say for sure, but the 7/7 attacks in Britain serve as stark reminders that the Islamists are here, have plotted, and continue to plot, similar acts of terrorism on American soil:

*1993 World Trade Center bombers write letters extolling jihad
*1997 NYC Subway Bombing Plot foiled
*How have terrorists entered the US? CIS/Steve Camarota
*August 2004: 2 arrested in alleged plot to bomb NYC subway
*March 2004: Terror on the Trains and Al Qaeda’s Chechen Connection. Prescient, must-read article from Josh Lefkowitz and Lorenzo Vidino of the Investigative Project…

In the United States, the rail network has also been repeatedly targeted. On July 31, 1997, the NYPD launched a pre-dawn raid on an apartment in Brooklyn, New York, after receiving information that two men living in the apartment planned to bomb the New York City subway system. During the raid, police discovered nail-studded pipe bombs, one of which, in the words of a senior law enforcement official, was “all set and ready to go.” NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir remarked, “these individuals intended to take these bombs onto subway trains, set them off, and the probability is that they and many others would have been killed.”

The vulnerability of the New York City subway system again came into focus in September 2003, when Time magazine reported that Saudi Arabia had detained a terrorist with extensive knowledge of a plot to launch a poison gas attack on the subways. In April 2003, news broke that another captured terrorist, Al-Qaeda operations head Khalid Sheik Mohammed, had informed interrogators of an Al-Qaeda plan to target Washington D.C.’s metro.

The warnings from Mohammed and the detainee in Saudi Arabia roughly corroborated an October 2002 FBI statement that “information from debriefings of Al-Qaeda detainees as of mid-October indicates that the group has considered directly targeting U.S. passenger trains, possibly using operatives who have a Western appearance.” The statement also noted, “recently captured Al-Qaeda photographs of U.S. railroad engines, cars and crossings heighten the intelligence community’s concern of this threat.”

The information gleaned from the detainees, coupled with the foiled 1997 Brooklyn bombing plot, make clear the peril posed to the U.S. rail system. When this bleak picture is merged with the international threat assessment, it seems likely that the horrors of Madrid may be repeated in the not so distant future.

NYC is now on heightened alert, along with cities across the country (via MarketWatch):

Federal officials asked New York, Washington, Boston, Atlanta and Miami to increase security alert levels at transit systems, according to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Amtrak said it deployed additional police and canine units at stations, aboard trains and along the railroad.

In Washington, police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled subways and buses.

“We are taking precautionary measures to assure our customers that we are doing everything that we can to make sure that they can use our system without incident,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson.

New York City placed thousands of additional police officers at bus and subway stations, a police spokeswoman said. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly met with his staff and may institute inspections of buses and subways.

“We’re in a state of high alert,” said one police lieutenant.

About two dozen police were stationed outside the New York Stock Exchange, including Emergency Service Unit officers with bullet-proof vests and automatic rifles.

Update: Orange alert declared for transit.

Related
: The 7/7 attacks: DHS responds

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