Citing growing concerns of extremism overseas, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie said today they’d be bringing together top law enforcement and public safety officials to coordinate preparation across the two neighboring states.
The governors will meet with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force — comprised of officials from a slew of organizations and agencies — and has invited the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, to attend.
The announcement came on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which, in addition to New Yorkers, killed many New Jersey residents and delivered a devastating blow to the shared Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which saw 37 of its police officers killed in the attacks.
It also comes as the profile of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an extremist group wreaking havoc in those nations, has risen tremendously in the United States following the beheadings of two American journalists.
“With new threats abroad growing from the rise of extremist terrorist organizations, we must take every step we can to enhance our security infrastructure to effectively prevent the hateful agenda of these groups from coming onto American soil,” Mr. Cuomo said in statement. “New York and New Jersey stand at the center of the global network of finance, commerce, and tourism, placing us in a position as an attractive potential terrorist target. These measures will strengthen the coordination between federal, state and local authorities and by doing so, better protect our citizens from terrorist attacks.”
Mr. Christie concurred that increasing tension abroad required increased attention here.
“With the growing potential threat from overseas, it is essential that we remain vigilant and ensure we continue to have a carefully coordinated, seamless preparedness and security operation between our two states and the federal government for the safety of our people, our region, and our assets,” Mr. Christie said.
The meeting will include representatives from the State Police, Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Port Authority, NPD, MTA Police, and the New York National Guard, according to Mr. Cuomo’s office.
While he didn’t mention ISIS by name in his statement, Mr. Cuomo has pointed to the threat posed by the terrorist organization before — and his concern that the threat will spread — when speaking about the importance of defending Israel.
“It’s not just Israel’s problem and it’s not just Hamas — it’s the Middle East, it’s Hamas, it’s Hezbollah, it’s ISIS, it is growing and fomenting in terrorism and extremism and in extremist groups. And they’re in the Middle East today, and if you look down the road they’re going to be in Europe tomorrow, and if you look down the road further they’ll probably be in this country — and our city and our state are premier places for targets of opportunity,” Mr. Cuomo said earlier this month.
Mayor Bill de Blasio — who was not mentioned in the press release from the governors — told reporters this morning that on his first September 11 as mayor, he was also working to ensure the city was safe.
“I think about it with the additional responsibility to help make sure it never happens again, and, you know, it’s very good that our Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was here, and you know, our partners at Homeland Security, FBI was here. Obviously, I’ve been talking a lot to Commissioner Bratton about the new challenges we face,” Mr. de Blasio said, according to an official transcript from his office.
President Barack Obama yesterday announced he would launch airstrikes against Syria in order to target ISIS and cited them as a threat to America.
Mr. de Blasio said he agreed with the president’s strategy.
“I think ISIS is obviously a profound threat that has to be confronted, so I think his core strategy makes sense,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I think there are some urging a rush to war. You know, there are some out there calling for boots on the ground – I think very inappropriately and dangerously, and I think the president was right to resist that.”