Documents: Al Qaeda targeted Brooklyn Bridge

April 27, 2011 4:18:58 PM PDT
New documents obtained by the New York Times from interrogations at Guantanamo, show that Al Qaeda was looking for ways to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, before the 9/11 attacks.

"It never struck you as far-fetched did it?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Oh, no, that's our job," said NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

From the moment he learned of it, New York's police commissioner took it seriously.

"I went to the bridge and looked at it closely, with other people from our counter-terrorism division, and it was obvious that there were ways that it could be done," Kelly said.

The /*NYPD*/ has known about /*Al Qaeda's*/ interest in the bridge for years and it has maintained tight security ever since /Commissioner Ray Kelly*/ climbed down into the cable-room for a personal inspection and realized that Al Qaeda's dream of destruction was doable.

"There are places on the bridge where you could be out of sight, you wouldn't be seen by the public or by cars traveling on the bridge," Kelly said.

Authorities then saw that Al Qaeda sees the /*Brooklyn Bridge*/ as a symbol of America with vulnerable cables.

/*Khalid Shaikh Mohammed*/ wanted the cables cut and have the bridge drop into the river, closing off a key part of the city's port activity.

An expert hired by the NYPD reported it would take just 15 minutes of cutting with a heavy-duty gas-powered saw to sever a few thin cables and undermine the bridge.

Because of that vulnerability, the bridge is now one of the most carefully guarded sites in the city.

Police cars check the ramps, a police boat is on constant patrol, and security cameras now watch once hidden corners.

If maintenance workers want to go out on the bridge, they must notify the police department's intelligence division before scaling the cables.

That intensified effort is believed to be the reason Al Qaeda's man sized up the project and then reported it was no longer possible.

"There are no guarantees, we do everything we possibly can to protect the city, but I'll never say anything is impossible," Kelly said.

The new collection of documents shows Al Qaeda had other U.S. symbols on its targets list, including the /*Statue of Liberty*/, the /*United Nations*/, and other suspension bridges.