Stoic. That word best describes New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. In an increasingly juvenile nation, Kelly’s granite temperament can be a tad daunting. But if you knew what Kelly knows, you might not smile much, either.
“Do not think for a second that al-Qaida and those who share its ideology have forgotten about New York,” Kelly said Monday. “Images of the World Trade Center and scenes of the city are regularly displayed on jihadist websites and al-Qaida publications. Its propagandists call on followers in the United States to take up the battle at home and use bombs, guns and poison to indiscriminately kill.”
Kelly told the Association for a Better New York and the Council on Foreign Relations that America’s financial and media capital remains militant Islam’s target of choice.
“In just the past 10 months,” Kelly said, “there have been several plots with a nexus to New York City.”
• Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 23, arrived from Bangladesh on a student visa. He conspired to blast Manhattan’s Federal Reserve Bank last October. On Aug. 9, he received a 30-year prison sentence.
• Raees Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, two Pakistani-born brothers, were nabbed in Florida last Nov. 29 after plotting to detonate theaters and restaurants in Times Square.
• New York Police Department undercover efforts prompted the arrest of Justin Kaliebe, 18, as he boarded a jet for Yemen, allegedly to join Ansar al-Sharia, aka al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
• An unnamed, Iranian-trained al-Qaida agent met a conspirator here. Among other objectives, they planned to attack a train between New York and Canada.
• Just days after allegedly bombing the Boston Marathon last April, killing three people and wounding 264, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev drove toward Manhattan with pipe bombs and explosive pressure cookers. Had their hostage not escaped, Kelly explained, “They would have arrived in midtown in time to launch a devastating attack at the morning rush hour.”
After 9/11, Kelly transformed the NYPD into a terrorism-fighting powerhouse. Kelly boosted his personnel on the FBI’s Joint Counterterrorism Task Force from 17 people to 120. The NYPD has become a mini CIA. Senior officers are stationed in 11 cities overseas and cooperate with local cops. These New Yorkers “visit the scenes of terrorist attacks and gather real-time information that guides the NYPD’s operations at home,” Kelly noted.
“Our enemies are smart, patient and committed,” Kelly commented. “In addition to the recent cases I mentioned, since 9/11 there have been plots to blow up the Herald Square subway station; to attack synagogues in the Bronx and Manhattan; to detonate the fuel lines that run under John F. Kennedy airport; to conduct suicide bombings on three rush-hour subway lines; to explode a car bomb in the middle of Times Square; and to attack post office buildings and returning U.S. troops with pipe bombs, just to name a few. ... What we can’t count are the additional plots that did not take place as a consequence of our vigilance.”
New York has survived 16 terror conspiracies since 9/11, the NYPD reports.
“The terrorist threat to the United States is as dangerous as ever,” Kelly concluded. “New York remains squarely in the crosshairs of global terrorism. This is a time for vigilance, not complacency.”
Against this terrifying backdrop, meanwhile, the Oval Office’s current occupant shabbily contorts himself to hoist his shoe bottom atop the desk while standing and chatting by phone. President Barack Obama fled the Situation Room during the bin Laden raid to play cards. After addressing America Aug. 31 about striking Syria, he raced from the Rose Garden to his 141st presidential golf outing. His serpentine mismanagement of the Syrian fiasco boasts the twists and turns of a sidewinder, but none of its bite. Meanwhile, this farce’s soundtrack features Russia’s Vladimir Putin strumming Obama like a balalaika.
Obama makes it easy to forget the phrase “adult supervision.” For an instant reminder of it, however, look to New York’s top cop, Ray Kelly.