NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Iraq’s prime minister says his country’s intelligence operation has uncovered a plot for an attack on subway systems in the United States and Paris.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he was told of the plot by Baghdad, and that it was the work of foreign fighters of the Islamic State group in Iraq. al-Abadi’s assertion could not be independently confirmed.
Asked if the attacks were imminent, he said, “I’m not sure.” Asked if the attacks had been thwarted, he said, “No.” Al-Abadi said the United States had been alerted, and that the suspects included extremists from the United States and France who were fighting for the Islamic State group in Iraq.
“Today, while I’m here I’m receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks — on metros of Paris and U.S.,” al-Abadi said, speaking in English. “They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq.”
He made the remarks at a meeting with journalists on the sidelines of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.
Congressman Peter King, member of the Homeland Security Commission, told CBS 2 that he has not seen evidence of an imminent threat against the United States.
“I have been aware that there are plots that ISIS is planning overseas against other countries, quite honestly, I have not been advised of this — and I have been checking this out — I don’t believe that the U.S. government has been advised of an imminent plot,” King said.
“It could be speculation in Iraq, it could be conversations where they were talking about it as aspirational, but as far as it being in motion I don’t believe it is,” King added.
King said the nation must be on guard, but so far, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have not put out any advisories of an imminent threat against the U.S.
“If they thought it was imminent they would be contacting New York State, New York City as soon as possible because when you’re talking about a subway attack obviously New York is always what first comes to mind,” King said. “We have at least 5,000 entrances and exits to train stations in New York, millions of commuters everyday, millions of riders on the trains, so they would be first notified.”
The NYPD released a statement saying, “We are aware of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s statements and we are in close contact with the FBI and other federal partners as we assess this particular threat stream. New York City normally operates at a heightened level of security and we adjust that posture daily based on our evaluation of information as we receive it.”
The news comes a day after the governors of New York and New Jersey came together to announce a substantial increase in security at local bridges, tunnels, airports and mass transit hubs, including Penn Station and Grand Central Station.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie said the ramped up security was not a result of any particular new intelligence.