Bagels and Plots: Notes on the NYPD’s High Holy Days threat briefing
There was good news and not such good news from the New York Police Department Wednesday at its annual “High Holy Days briefing” before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, held at 1 Police Plaza, the department’s headquarters near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly discussed the discouraging news with an audience of mostly bearded men in black coats and yarmulkes who filled the NYPD’s auditorium: this year has seen a “sharp increase in the operational tempo” of Hezbollah, the militant Shiite political party, key player in Lebanon’s fractious politics (it acts as Iran’s “proxy” in Lebanon), and source of deadly terrorist strikes against Israel, other Jews, and the U.S. since its creation three decades ago. Kelly said that Hezbollah’s or Iran’s fingerprints have been found on at least nine terrorist plots around the world since January, showing a capability and relentlessness of obvious concern to the NYPD and its vaunted counterterrorism division. The acceleration of such plots and the diversity of their locales—Bulgaria, Thailand, Cyprus, New Delhi, Kenya, and Azerbaijan—demonstrate that the July 18 strike on a busload of Israeli tourists at Burgas airport in Bulgaria, which killed seven and injured 21, “was not an isolated event,” said the NYPD’s new head of intelligence research, Rebecca Weiner (that’s “We-Iner,” as she gently corrected a rabbi who had mispronounced her name).
The better news, Weiner said, was that there has been no specific threat against Israeli or other Jewish targets in the New York metropolitan area as the High Holy Days approach. And while Iran and Hezbollah have plotted strikes in several countries with growing frequency, most have failed or been foiled, causing relatively few deaths or injuries.