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NEW YORK (AP) - City officials stepped up mass transit security Thursday, saying they had received a credible threat that New York's subway system could be the target of a terrorist attack in coming days.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the threat originated overseas, and was the most specific terrorist threat city officials had received to date. No one in New York has been arrested or detained, he said.

A law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the threat is "specific to place, time and method" and involved a bombing.

Some officials in Washington appeared to be taking the threat less seriously.

"I've spoken with top-level authorities in Washington, and the threat, while specific in terms of location, does not have the highest level of credibility or corroboration," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. "Nonetheless, in a post 9/11 world you cannot be too careful."

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly urged the public to report suspicious people or activities. Police planned to look through bags, briefcases, baby strollers and luggage in a large-scale search of the mass transit system.

"We have done and will continue to do everything we can to protect this city," Bloomberg said, adding that he planned to take the subway home Thursday night. "We will spare no resource, we will spare no expense. We have increased our police presence on our subways."

Some commuters took the threat in stride.

Paul Radtke, 45, of Hoboken, N.J., said he had heard similar warnings before and found it hard to take them all seriously.

"Unless it's something dramatic that's happening, I've got to go to work," Radtke said after getting off a subway train at Penn Station. He said the only travel habit he is changing is trying not to make eye contact with police officers so they won't search his bag.

An estimated 4.5 million passengers ride the New York subway on an average weekday. The system has more than 468 subway stations.

New York's security level remained at orange, the second-highest. The level has stayed the same since Sept. 11. Bloomberg said there was no indication the threat was linked to this month's Jewish holidays.

"We have never had before a specific threat to our subway system," he said. "Its importance was enhanced above the normal level by the detail that was available to us from intelligence sources."
 

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AP Image​
Police officers in hazmat suits check a suspicious package at Pennsylvania Station in New York.

NYC Subway Threat Tied To Iraq Arrests

UPDATED: 5:58 pm EDT October 7, 2005

NEW YORK -- U.S. forces in Iraq say they've arrested a third suspect believed to be involved in an alleged plot to bomb New York's subways.

Authorities are also looking into an informant's claim that a fourth person traveled to New York as part of the scheme.

Two suspected plotters were arrested in Iraq Thursday morning, before New York officials announced word of the plot and boosted transit system security. A federal official said one of the suspects apparently said more than a dozen people of various nationalities were involved in the plot.

Back in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended closing part of Penn Station Friday morning because of a soda container oozing a suspicious green liquid. He said said that if he makes a mistake, it will be "on the side of protecting the people."

Crews in hazmat suits were called in to remove the soda container found near an ATM machine in New York's Penn Station, but New York's police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it was "a prank." He said the liquid was a "Drano-type substance" and posed no threat.

In a news conference Friday, Bloomberg defended his decision to tell residents about a bomb threat against the city's subway system. Officials in Washington said the threat is of "doubtful credibility."

But Bloomberg said city officials "believe there is some credibility to this," and he said it's "very different being an analyst in Washington" than being a city official.

President George W. Bush declined to second-guess New York City officials over their subway terror alert. He told reporters Friday that decisions about how to respond are best left to New Yorkers.

Asked if officials in the Big Apple were over-reacting, Bush replied, "They took the information that we gave and made the judgments they thought were necessary."

Outside New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal on Friday, more officers were visible on the streets. And one lane of traffic on the city's Ninth Avenue was being reserved for emergency vehicles.

One man entering the subway at Penn station said, "Hopefully, God's with me and I'll be OK." But another man said he's not worried, because "the cops have it under control."
 

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Memo: NYC Attack Was Scheduled for Sunday By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Details emerged about an alleged plot to attack the city's subways with bombs hidden in bags and possibly baby strollers as local and federal officials jostled over the credibility of the threat.
A Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by The Associated Press said the attack was reportedly scheduled to take place on or around Sunday, with terrorists using timed or remote-controlled explosives hidden in briefcases, suitcases or in or under strollers.

The memo said that the department had received information indicating the attack might be carried out by "a team of terrorist operatives, some of whom may travel or who may be in the New York City area."

The memo, issued Wednesday to state and local officials, said that homeland security and FBI agents doubted the credibility of the information, but it provided four pages of advice about averting a possible attack.

In Iraq, authorities detained a third suspect in the plot and investigated whether a fourth had traveled to New York as part of the scheme, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case.

The official said the man's trip to New York was described by an informant who had spent time in Afghanistan and proved reliable in past investigations. But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, added that authorities had not confirmed whether the fourth man even exists.

Those arrested had received explosives training in Afghanistan, the law enforcement official said Friday. They had planned to travel through Syria to New York, and then meet with operatives to carry out the bombings.

A federal official said one of the suspects arrested in Iraq apparently told interrogators that more than a dozen people were involved in the plot, and that they were of various nationalities, including Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Several of these details related to the suspects were first reported by ABC News.

In Baghdad, spokespeople for the U.S. military and the U.S. Embassy declined to comment about the arrests. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle also said the government has no information that the fourth person possibly connected to the plot "is either here or even exists."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the military obtained intelligence information "during the normal course of our operations." The intelligence led to a military raid in Iraq this week that was conducted by Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S. troops, Whitman said, but added that there was no direct link between the raid and the New York subway threat.

Homeland security officials in Washington downplayed the threat and said it was of "doubtful credibility."

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly vigorously defended their decision to discuss the threat publicly Thursday.

"If I'm going to make a mistake you can rest assured it is on the side of being cautious," Bloomberg said at a news conference Friday.

President Bush, asked Friday if he thought New York officials had overreacted, said: "I think they took the information we gave and made the judgments they thought were necessary."

In New York, thousands of extra police officers flooded the city's subway system, pulling commuters out of rush-hour crowds and rifling through their bags or briefcases.

"Hopefully, God's with me and I'll be OK," Vinnie Stella said while clutching newspapers under his arm as he entered the subway at Penn Station.

An estimated 4.5 million passengers ride the New York subway on an average weekday. The system has more than 468 subway stations. In July, the city began random subway searches in the wake of the train bombings in London.

___

Associated Press Writers Pat Milton, Sam Dolnick and Jim Fitzgerald in New York, and Mark Sherman in Washington, contributed to this report.
 

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Report: Informant Admits Subway Threat Was Hoax

POSTED: 11:15 am EDT October 11, 2005
UPDATED: 11:43 am EDT October 11, 2005

NEW YORK -- The informant who sparked last week's New York City subway threat alert has admitted it was a hoax, CNN reported Tuesday.

The network reported that the informant admitted providing false information.

The informant had claimed that al-Qaida operatives in Iraq were plotting to attack the city's subways using baby strollers packed with remote-controlled explosives. The reported threat said the attacks could occur as early as last Friday.

Authorities said earlier the interrogation of three suspects arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq has so far produced no information to corroborate a possible threat.

New York City's heightened subway security will slowly scale back to what it was before officials announced the supposed subway bombing threat last week.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stressed that police will continue random bag searches in the subways that began in response to the bombings on the London transit system.
 
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