Articles

May 15, 2007

NY Daily News on IED doc

Daily News (New York)


May 13, 2007 Sunday
SPORTS FINAL EDITION

PENN STATION LIKELY NEXT TARGET FOR IRAQI BOMBERS, SAYS EXPERT

BYLINE: BY JAMES GORDON MEEK DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 7

LENGTH: 394 words

WASHINGTON – Experts studying the use of IEDs that have wreaked havoc among U.S. troops in Iraq warn that the deadly bombs will likely be exploding here sometime in the near future.

“There are going to be a bunch of p——off Iraqis and foreign fighters, and I think it’s just inevitable they’re going to try it here,” terrorism expert Peter Bergen told the Daily News. “It could be five years from now or 10 years from now, but that’s the potential threat.”

Bergen hosts a chilling new documentary airing Tuesday night on the Discovery Times channel about how terrorists construct and use improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs.

To illustrate how catastrophic it would be if the tactic were imported to New York, the show – “Mission Ops: Assignment IEDs” – details what the results would be if backpacks filled with nails, plastic explosives and cell phone triggers were scattered around Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, especially if left near gas and power lines. Simply by dialing the cell phones, the block could become an inferno.

Bergen, who conducted the first TV interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1997, doesn’t have an alarmist reputation, and law enforcement officials do not dismiss the scenario.

A top cop familiar with countermeasures at MSG and Penn Station said he enters the site every morning with dread, wondering, “Is this the day?”

In January, Pakistani-American Shahawar Matin Siraj was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station, just a few blocks from the Garden. He was angry about the Iraq war.

Today, the Garden is one of the most heavily protected places in the city. Garden security, MTA and Amtrak workers, NYPD cops and the National Guard are trained to spot anything out of place. But most of the half-million people who commute through Penn Station each day carry bags – and they aren’t screened.

“There is no doubt we’re susceptible,” the law enforcement official admitted.

“How are you going to stop it?” wondered a senior FBI counterterrorism official. “Why it hasn’t happened yet beats me.”

Michael Jackson, the deputy Homeland Security secretary, told The News that Al Qaeda associates have already cased every city landmark. “What is the most vulnerable venue and which has the highest return on investment for those who would kill indiscriminately?” Jackson said.

jmeek@nydailynews.com

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