New York city launched a new counter terrorism unit, immediately following the terrorist attacks in Paris. Mayor Bill de Blasio, the mayor of the City, emphatically said, “We can say more certainly than ever before that no city in America is better prepared to defend against terrorism.”
Speaking at a news conference during the launch of the new Critical Response Command (CRC), based in Randall’s Island, De Blasio said New York city was using “every tool in our arsenal to stop the terrorists and protect the safety of the people of this city.”
The heavily-armed new unit has been described as a standby force ready for emergency operations at short notice and operating round the clock. Although there were no threats against the city, the New York Police Department (NYPD) is training its entire 35,000-member force to thwart any Paris-style attacks. With the upcoming Christmas holidays, security in the city has been tightened –even as there are fears of a marked drop in tourists next month.
As part of its counter terrorism operations, the Police performed a drill in an abandoned subway station, as an exercise responding to a potential terrorist attack. Responding to a video from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Police Commissioner William Bratton said the video had been pieced together from old footage of some of the tourist spots in the city.
“Quite frankly, there is nothing new about this video”, Bratton told a press conference, and advised New Yorkers: “Beware, but do not be afraid.” And emphasizing the safety of the city, he took a subway ride. Still, despite the assurances, several schools in neighouring New Jersey and Long Island, have cancelled plans for visits to the city by students – primarily due to safety concerns.
Reacting to the Paris attacks, the 15-member UN Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution November 20 urging member states to take “all necessary measures” against attacks by ISIS. But such action should be taken “in compliance with international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL)”, also known as ISIS.
President Obama sought to reassure Americans that the country is safe as travelers prepare to hit the roads and the sky for Thanksgiving holiday travels. “I know that Americans have been asking each other whether it’s safe here, whether it’s safe to fly,” Obama said in a brief public statement on Wednesday, less than two weeks after terror attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and evoked comparisons to 9/11. “As we go into Thanksgiving weekend, I want the American people to know we are taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe.”
The President said his intelligence and security teams have assured him there is no existing credible plot against the U.S., and officials are working “constantly” and “continually” to thwart attacks. “So as Americans travel this weekend to be with their loved ones, I want them to know that our counterterrorism, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement professionals at every level are working overtime,” Obama said before urging people to be “vigilant” using the familiar adage, “if you see something, say something.”
Obama—who was flanked by members of his national security team, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson—also touted the international coalition that is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) abroad. In the wake of Obama’s meeting with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, Obama said the U.S. is “stepping up” to further assist France in attacks against the terror network.
“We are stepping up pressure on ISIL where it lives and we will not let up,” Obama said.
Obama emphasized that Americans should not be overwhelmed by fear of attacks at the holiday season begins. “While the threat of terrorism is a troubling reality of our age, we are both equipped to prevent attacks and resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm,” Obama added. “That is something we can all be thankful for.”