NYPD officials tried to reassure New Yorkers on Monday that the department was prepared for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade in light of a new ISIS threat encouraging vehicle-based attacks.
The threat, which was detailed in the ISIS-based online magazine Rumiyah over the weekend, shows a photo of the Macy’s parade and calls it “an excellent target.” The magazine also shows a photo of a U-Haul truck and says it is “an affordable weapon.”
“This is not something that occurred to us over the weekend when we saw the article in ISIL’s online magazine. This is an element we have factored into plans for the Thanksgiving Day Parade in years past,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, who added: “We live in a world where you have terrorist organizations like ISIL and Al-Qaeda that pose credible threats, we live in a city that has been a repeated target of terrorist attacks and attempts, and by-and-large ... we have managed to uncover, prevent, and stop those attacks.”
This year’s parade route will, like other major events in the past, have a “complex counterterrorism overlay,” which includes biohazard surveillance and vapor wake explosive detection dogs, or dogs that are trained to sniff out explosives in a crowd.
“It’s not a one threat approach, it’s an all threat approach,” he said, who added New Yorkers should “come to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, have a good time, bring the family. I always go, always bring mine.”
Following the truck-based attack in Nice, France, the NYPD visited 135 truck rental locations in the metropolitan area, of the 181 total that were identified, that rent trucks under a certain weight (where you wouldn’t need a special license) and educated them on warning signs and behavior to look for, Miller said. The practice is part of the department’s nexis program, he said, where they track several points of interest, including chemical dealers and cosmetic stores that sell elements that could be used to make explosives.
“We do get calls, and we run those leads down,” he said. “To date, nothing that we found overly concerning, but we encourage them to keep calling us. We’ll renew those calls based on this latest threat.”