New York prepares for potential Iran blowback

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea and Deputy Commissioner Miller hold a media availability in response to President Trump’s air strikes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea and Deputy Commissioner Miller hold a media availability in response to President Trump’s air strikes.
New York City Mayoral Photography Office (MPO)
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea and Deputy Commissioner Miller hold a media availability in response to President Trump’s air strikes

New York prepares for potential Iran blowback

With threats being hurled between Iran and the U.S., the Empire State is taking extra precautions to thwart terrorism.
January 6, 2020

New York City is preparing for potential terrorist attacks, following the drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Friday.

After the strike, Iran threatened a "crushing revenge" for the top commander’s assassination "from all those involved and responsible." Soleimani ran the Quds force, which trains insurgent and rebel groups throughout the Middle East and Iran is a sponsor of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. 

On Friday, it was reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the drone strike "creates a whole series of dangerous possibilities for our city," which is already a “number one terror target in the United States."

Since then, President Donald Trump – who ordered the killing of Soleimani – has been Iran by threatening to destroy its cultural institutions on Twitter. (As many have pointed out, deliberately attacking civilian targets would be a war crime.) 

On Monday, millions gathered in Tehran for Soleimani’s funeral to mourn the leader. 

The commander’s daughter, Zeinab Soleimani, vowed that her father’s death would not go unavenged at the funeral. “America and Zionism should know that my father’s martyrdom will lead to … a dark day for them and flatten their homes,” Soleimani said. “Crazy Trump, don’t think that everything is over with my father’s martyrdom.”

These vague threats are likely to make many New Yorkers uneasy, especially those who vividly remember the World Trade Center attacks, but city and state officials say they’re diligently keeping watch for any possible threats. Here’s what we’ve been able to glean so far from politicians and police regarding counter-terrorism efforts:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

On Friday, the governor stated that security will be increased around the state’s “infrastructure points” and that he is directing the National Guard to mind the city’s airports.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

The mayor was among the first people to raise concerns over potential threats and attacks directed toward the city. Late Thursday evening, Hizzoner tweeted that he, New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Sheaand Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counter-terrorism John Miller have already spoken about protecting “key NYC locations.”

And on Friday, de Blasio, Shea and Miller held a press conference to discuss efforts to keep the city safe amidst these threats.

"What you will see going forward in New York City in the wake of the news overnight is that heightened vigilance in terms of uniformed officers many with long guns," Shea said at the conference.

NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea

Shea confirmed that the city is not facing any credible threats on Friday, but that the NYPD has “deployed additional resources” to key city locations

Deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism John Miller

In an op-ed for the Daily News, Miller detailed the ways Iran could potentially harm New York, including its practice of surrogate warfare, using Iranian proxies to inflict harm, and the targeting of landmarks, infrastructure and government buildings.He also gave an overview of how the NYPD is preparing for possible attacks. 

The deputy commissioner also wrote that Soleimani directed a terrorist organization to study the city closely in the past and that sleeper agents assigned to the city were arrested before they were able to commit any act of terrorism. 

“The fact that the sleeper agents assigned to New York City were uncovered and arrested before they could strike, or the fact that the FBI and NYPD working together have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots targeting New York since 9/11, should offer some comfort,” writes Miller. “No city has invested more money, more personnel or developed deeper partnerships than New York City.”

Miller continued to say that the NYPD and U.S. intelligence officials are actively working to determine if and when Iran will seek its vengeance. 

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
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