NYPD counterterrorism officers outline safety plan for 9/11

Martine Materasso speaks on the counter-terrorism efforts in place this year.
Photo by Dean Moses

City officials discussed on Wednesday heightened protocols just before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, though there is currently no imminent threat. 

The anniversary of 9/11 looks different after 20 years, especially after the U.S. has finally withdrawn forces from Afghanistan.

“The most important thing … as of this moment, there is no specific incredible threat directed in New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference on Sept. 8. While the anniversary of the attacks is on his mind, he suspected that it may also be on the minds of terrorists.

Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said that the department will be treating this as an elevated threat environment because of louder conversations surrounding the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Miller said he has noted “more than a dozen significant propaganda releases, many of them geared towards English language audiences.” 

Two-thirds of them were coming from al-Qaeda, which Miller said suffered losses along with ISIS “in terms of territory and commanding control over recent years.” 

Pro-al-Qaeda magazines have also made recent publications, Miller said. They may have influenced recent unconnected attacks around the world, including one in Plano, Texas

“We take note of all of that, and factor that into our threat assessment and plans,” the deputy commissioner said. 

NYPD Counterterrorism Chief Martine Materasso outlined the safety plan for the weekend and expressed confidence that it would be a safe event.

“We will be using all of our counterterrorism resources to ensure a safe event,” she said, including explosive detection canines, cameras to detect magnetism, chemical sensors, and more. 

“Our bomb squad will vet the World Trade Center site prior to the event, and will remain for the duration,” Materasso added. 

The counterterrorism chief also pleaded with the public to not use drones this weekend. Though it is illegal to fly drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles in New York City, Materasso and de Blasio gave repeated reminders.

“We will also have the counter-drone detection teams that will mitigate if necessary,” Materasso said.