Reporting Rich Lamb
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The world’s most wanted man is dead, but concerns over retaliation have commuters and police on guard at Penn Station and rail stations across the country.
Al-Qaeda confirmed its leader is dead. In a statement posted online Friday, the group threatened to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death.
“His blood will be turned into a curse that will haunt Americans and their allies,” the jihadist group said. They also urged Pakistanis to “continue on the path of jihad until we either see victory or die trying.”
Former FBI counter terrorism agent Manny Gomez chased bin Laden after 9/11. He said the terror organization would still “continue to plan and track ways of killing us.”
Gomez said while the killing may be a blow to al-Qaeda’s morale, he added “they have an operating system just like any other major corporation.”
Just Thursday, the United States unsuccessfully tried to kill Anwar al Awlaki, the man believed to have inspired the Fort Hood shootings and the would-be underwear bomber, with drone strikes.
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Intelligence seized during Sunday’s raid on bin Laden’s compound revealed a plan in the works to target the nation’s rail system, possibly on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
SEALs took away 2.7 terabytes of information – enough to fill 5,000 hours of audio tape, or 800 hours of video, or 600 million pages of computer text.
Federal officials said there was no evidence the plot ever fully got off the ground but the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin, putting security teams and commuters on alert.
“I think we’re going to hear more and more about attempted attacks on transit, because it’s so difficult to secure, but we are making progress here in New York. The MTA, NYPD, etc. are doing a very good job,” Rep. Peter King said.
The Department of Homeland Security said al-Qaeda never reached the planning stage for a rail attack. However, they are advising local officials to reexamine their rail tracks.
The new information came as no surprise to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
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“We have assumed all along the rails are a possible target,” Kelly said. That’s been our assumption for 10 years; this is not new news.”
“You got to keep your eye open and keep your eye on your bag and everyone else’s bag,” said Gary Gittler of Jericho, L.I.
“At the Long Island Rail Road station there was two officers — normally you don’t see that,” Nelda Canada told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.
Documents also reference potential attacks on other major cities, Chicago and Los Angeles, and other dates: Independence Day and New Year’s.
“I’m always a little leery of who’s on the train so I’m always keeping my eyes open. It just makes me more aware,” said Stacey Lipscomb of Somerset.
“It’s a big concern that it could happen in the future sometime,” said Sayan Sarkar of Garden City, L.I.
Intelligence sources said bin Laden was strapped for cash in his last days and had turned over greater control of the terror organization to his second-in-command.
Federal agents were hoping the trove of documents seized from the compound will help them locate him and other key al-Qaeda figures before they can launch a terror attack.
Apart from extra security at rail stations, transportation officials were also on the lookout for any spikes or clips that may be missing from rail tracks.
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