Times Square 'attractive target' on New Year's Eve but no specific threats: ABC News report

ByDan Krauth and and ABC News WABC logo
Friday, December 22, 2023
New terror concerns for New Year's Eve with elevated threat level
Dan Krauth has more on the new security concerns ahead of the new year.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- There is "no specific reporting regarding any threats" but Times Square is an 'attractive target' on New Year's Eve, according to a threat assessment obtained by ABC News

The document says the celebration's significant attendance and media coverage makes an "attractive target for foreign terrorist organizations, homegrown violent extremists, domestic violent extremists, lone offenders, and targeted violence" but adds there is "no specific reporting regarding any threats."

The document notes that for the past several years extremists "have almost exclusively attacked law enforcement or military targets in the United States."

Last year, a Maine man, Trevor Bickford, allegedly attacked NYPD officers working a checkpoint on 8th Av. The FBI characterized the attack as aimed at killing US government officials.

The NYPD is already preparing for tight security on New Year's Eve, holding meetings with key units as recently as Thursday.

"We will have a large police presence both uniformed and plainclothes. We are going to do traffic control, pedestrian control, to make sure it's a very safe new year for all," Deputy Inspector Worobey said.

Security experts say police are facing the most challenging threat environment since before 9/11. They're receiving more tips and working behind the scenes to vet them.

"Social media, tips from people they're following. All these leads that could bring them to some person or people that may be actively pursuing an attack on New York City," security expect Manny Gomez said.

The increased threat started on October 7 due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

"I'll tell you with the pro-Palestinian marches right now, it's sapping a lot of the strength and the energy of the police department, so that's cause for concern," Robert Boyce, NYPD's retired Chief of Detectives, said.

Nationwide, the FBI has investigated more than 1,800 tips since then and has more than 100 open investigations that are in some way tied to the conflict.

It's something the director of the FBI testified about in front of Congress earlier this month.

"I've never seen a time when all of the threats, or so many of the threats are all elevated at exactly the same time," FBI Director Christopher Wray testified.

The biggest concerns are lone wolves and small groups taking action with little to no notice.

The document obtained by ABC News also notes the increase in threats since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and ongoing war

Just Finch reports on the concern over terror threats.

"We assess that lone offenders inspired by, or reacting to, the ongoing Israel-HAMAS conflict pose the most likely threat to Americans, especially Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities in the United States," the document said.

"It is a time to really be concerned about this. We won't panic of course, but we're in rare times. When you look at the hate crimes that are up in New York City, there are extraordinary levels that we haven't seen," Boyce said.

The country's largest city is used to threats and police say they're more than prepared to host the country's largest New Year's Eve celebration, safely.

"This is going to be the safest place in the country, if not the world. New York City Police Department has the greatest resources, the greatest intelligence and the greatest tactical wear with all to know how to deal with these situations," Gomez said.''


Some information from ABC News

MORE NEWS: Nearly 200 residents displaced after torch ignites massive fire in Queens

NJ Burkett has details.


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