Israeli Web site causes N.Y. to up counterterrorism precautions
American authorities nonetheless say the report of radiological threat to city is unsubstantiated.
New York authorities were taking extra counterterrorism precautions Friday in response to what they said was an unsubstantiated report on an Israeli Web site regarding a radiological threat to the city.
Officials said Friday that they had not changed the city's terror alert status in response to online chatter mentioning a truck packed with radioactive material. But police deployed extra radiological sensors on street, water and air patrols, and were stopping vehicles at checkpoints in lower Manhattan and around the city.
Police confirmed the increased security was in response to receiving information that a dirty bomb may go off around 34th street in Manhattan on Friday evenin.
The Empire State Building, New York City's tallest building, Madison Square Garden and Macy's department store are in the 34th Street neighborhood.
Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne called the measures strictly precautionary. He said an Israeli Web site reported that online posts were made following a video released Sunday featuring an American member of Al-Qaida threatening foreign diplomats and embassies across the Islamic world.
Browne appeared to be referring to a report published on DEBKAfile, which stated that Al-Qaida communications had accused the U.S. of the "grave error of failing to take seriously the videotape released by the American Al-Qaida spokesman Adam Gaddahn last week."
According to the report, the communications said "the attacks would be carried out 'by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America's biggest city and financial nerve center.'"
DEBKAfile added that another message "mentioned New York, Los Angeles and Miami as targets."
"We are closely monitoring the situation," said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke. "There continues to be no credible information telling us that there's a threat to the homeland at this time."
The FBI also said there was no credible threat.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the police measures were nothing out of the ordinary.
"These actions are like those that the NYPD takes every day - precautions against potential but unconfirmed threats that may never materialize," he said in a statement.