Search this site

Bio-Terror Agents

    LOCATIONS‎ > ‎

    New York City (Subway)

    BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: If a bio-terror attack occurs in New York City, it will happen in the subway. Based on recent news, terror drills, war-games and  events, New York City may be targeted in an upcoming bio-terror attack. The city of  New York is also one of 21 cities NOT at risk for elimination from the Cities Readiness Initiative (meaning that New York is "ready" for bio-terrorism).  

    Title: Penn Station Evacuated After Bomb Threat
    Date: July 25, 2005
    Source:
    New York Times

    Abstract: A man who falsely claimed to have a bomb in his bag prompted the authorities to evacuate Pennsylvania Station for more than an hour yesterday, causing delays for travelers across the Northeast and punctuating a tiresome week of increased security in New York City's subway stations.

    During a dispute with an Amtrak ticket agent, the man, whom the police identified as Raul Claudio, 43, of the Bronx, placed a bag on a ticket counter and said a bomb was inside, the police said. The threat was unsubstantiated, but caused personnel including National Guardsmen in military fatigues to clear the station just after noon.

    "When we were in line, he said he had a bomb in the bag," said a woman who had accompanied Mr. Claudio to the station who would identify herself only as Milagros, 46. She said that Mr. Claudio, who was pulling a suitcase on wheels, had become upset when the ticket agent could not retrieve his reservation.

    Mr. Claudio has had repeated run-ins with the law, including convictions for at least two drug offenses, according to Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office. He was at Penn Station intending to travel to a drug treatment program near Albany, his lawyer and three acquaintances said.

    The city's bomb squad determined that there was no bomb in the bag, but Mr. Claudio was arrested and charged with two felonies: making a terroristic threat and falsely reporting an incident, the authorities said. Each count carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison. He was held in $15,000 bail.

    At his arraignment at Manhattan criminal court last night, Mr. Claudio was described by the prosecution as having a criminal history that dates back to 1979. His court-appointed lawyer, Joshua A. Benjamin, said his client, whom he described as addicted to crack cocaine, had "a colorful past."

    "Mr. Claudio is a not a terrorist, not even almost a terrorist," Mr. Benjamin said, adding that only in a post-9/11 climate would Mr. Claudio's comment result in his arrest.

    After the threat, officers shouted for people to evacuate, sending hundreds of luggage-toting travelers outside into the noon sun, but the commotion was met with more indifference than alarm. People clung to the periphery of Penn Station, hardly bothered by the reports of a bomb threat. For many, it was just another day in a new world of heightened vigilance.

    The station was reopened at 1:24 p.m., delaying Amtrak trains between New York and Philadelphia from six minutes to slightly more than an hour, a spokeswoman said. Spokesmen for the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit said service to and from Pennsylvania Station was halted for about an hour. Eight New Jersey Transit trains were affected.

    It was unclear how many travelers were affected by the delays, but the threat happened during a light travel period, said Dan Stessel, the New Jersey Transit spokesman.

    "If it occurred on a weekday rush hour, the impact would have been much greater," he said.

    New Jersey Transit passengers whose trains were stopped because of the evacuation were offered a free transfer at Newark to PATH trains bound for Manhattan, he said.

    Though the incident yesterday proved to be only a scare, it gave many people pause. "It doesn't make you feel safe when there is a possibility that you could be blown up," said Joseph Davide, 22, as he waited at the Massapequa station of the Long Island Rail Road amid announcements that train service had been stopped. "But you can't stop taking the train, either" (New York Times, 2005).

    Title: Terror Drill Staged At Rensselaer Train Station
    Date: October 2, 2005
    Source: Associated Press

    Abstract: The Department of Homeland Security sponsored a terror drill in the Capital Region Saturday to ensure residents will be prepared in the case of a terrorist attack. The simulated drill at the Rensselaer train station assumed there had been an explosion on an Amtrak train that wounded dozens and killed at least five.

    The test was graded by Homeland Security observers who watched every move local emergency teams made. Rensselaer Police said the Department of Homeland Security will have a full assessment of the drill by next week.

    Officials will work out a procedure for action based on participants responses (Associated Press, 2005).

    Title: An Action Plan To Reopen A Contaminated Airport
    Date:
    December, 2006
    Source:
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (PDF)

    Abstract: How would authorities respond if San Francisco International Airport (SFO) were to be contaminated with anthrax, and how long would it take to restore the airport to full usability? An intentional bioterrorist attack at the airport could endanger the health of hundreds of people. Long-term closure of this critical transportation hub during decontamination would have disastrous effects on the regional and national economy.

    Recall the events of late 2001 when letters containing anthrax spores contaminated office buildings and postal facilities in Florida, New York City, Washington, DC, and other locations. Although some buildings were back in full operation in less than a month, others took many months to reopen, and one Department of State facility was closed for three years. With that experience in mind, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded a project to minimize the time a major transportation facility would be closed following a biological attack.

    Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories led the project, in partnership with SFO, to develop response and restoration protocols for such events. The group’s work culminated in January 2006 when 120 officials from local, state, and federal agencies participated in a two-day demonstration at SFO’s old international terminal to test the new procedures. Returning the international terminal and a boarding area at SFO to full operation from a large-scale terrorist incident may have taken up to two years based on other biorestoration activities and the decontamination and restoration methods that were available in 2001. Using the protocols developed by the Livermore–Sandia team reduces that time by at least 50 percent. In fact, the team estimates that the time required would actually be less than six months, depending on the level of planning in place prior to an attack.

    A new DHS assignment for Livermore is to develop protocols for responding to and cleaning up a large outdoor area contaminated by a bioagent. Researchers already know that sunlight will naturally degrade many biological pathogens. Also, when some bioagent particles hit soil, they stay there, so re-aerosolization is less of a problem. Still, planning for such an attack is new territory. Says Raber, “At this point, no one has experience with wide-area urban decontamination.” The Laboratory is also developing a site-specific biological restoration plan for Grand Central Station in New York City, where Livermore’s Autonomous Pathogen Detection System has been tested. (See S&TR, October 2004, pp. 4–5.) A major subway station offers yet another set of challenges because it is part of a web of tunnels, staircases, and large semi-contained areas. “We look forward to continuing our involvement with major transportation facilities,” says Carlsen. “They are a key to our nation’s economic vitality and the well-being of our citizens” (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 2006).

    Title: Penn Station [Terror] Drill
    Date: August 26, 2007
    Source:
    Office of Emergency Management

    Abstract: The New York City Office of Emergency Management conducted the Penn Station Full-Scale Exercise to test the City’s response to an explosion in Pennsylvania Station. The exercise allowed the City to evaluate agency procedures as first responders coordinated actions, made critical decisions, and applied the City’s assets to save lives and protect the public following a possible terrorist incident.

    The scenario: At 12:01 a.m. a strobe light, acting the part of a fire, pulsed through the dining car of a Washington D.C. bound train in the act of boarding. Amtrak security immediately notified first response agencies to the imagined fire, explosion, and injuries. Minutes later, sirens screamed through midtown as 400 emergency responders converged on Penn Station.

    The exercise: The exercise tested three distinct phases of the City’s response. In phase one, firefighters wielding axes and halligans multi-purpose tools designed to quickly force open locked doors rushed into Penn Station to extinguish the fire. One group evacuated mock victims while another stretched a hose from one of Penn Station’s emergency standpipes.

    In the second phase, police investigators entered the blackened dining car and discovered mannequins playing the part of injured victims. One mannequin, seated in the corner and covered in soot, stood out from the rest. His plaid shirt was ripped in the center revealing a wired, tactical vest underneath. He was also missing his arms and head. Responders identified him as the bomber and swept the rest of the car for threats. A second possible bomb discovered moments later forced all personnel to evacuate to a safe distance.

    The final phase of the exercise tested the City’s fatality management and evidence collection procedures. First responders from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) established a command post and collected samples from each victim to create a database. In a real mass fatality incident, OCME could identify victims by cross-referencing these DNA samples with samples contributed by friends and family of missing people.

    In spite of the stop and go nature of the exercise, players established an incident command post, implemented life safety operations, created a multi-agency safety/security zone, and conducted fatality management operations faster than controllers expected.

    Penn Station’s size and busy environment added various complications to the exercise. In addition to managing substantial pedestrian traffic, players had to navigate unplanned obstacles like suspicious packages any bags left unattended. Due to the overtones of terrorism, responders reacted to the packages as if they were in play and relocated the Incident Command Post to a safe distance outside of Penn Station (Office of Emergency Management, 2007).

    Title: Exclusive: NY Rail Plot Details Based On 'Reliable' FBI Source
    Date: November 26, 2008
    Source:
    ABC News

    Abstract: Uniformed police officers have flooded New York City's Penn Station, home to the Long Island Rail Road, following a warning from the FBI of a "plausible but unsubstantiated" threat of a terrorist bomb attack against the system during the holidays.

    Law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com, the plot involved a "Madrid-like attack," a reference to the synchronized bombing of the commuter rail system in Spain in March 2004 that killed 191 people.

    A terror suspect arrested in Pakistan by the FBI in recent days provided authorities with details of a bomb plot against the Long Island Rail Road and other information that led to series of high level intelligence and law enforcement conference calls over the past 24 hour and the issuing of a bulletin warning of an unspecified holiday attack on the New York City region's commuter rail system, ABC News has learned.

    The suspect - according to some reports the arrest took place in Pakistan - recently met with Al Qaeda leaders and was able to provide authorities with significant detail as to how the plotters would have carried out an attack if their plans had gotten beyond the so-called "aspirational" stage.

    Authorities had no evidence to substantiate the suspect's charges and there is no evidence of any active plot, multiple officials said.

    The suspect is believed to have in the past resided in Suffolk County, Long Island. The island is a 7.5 million population peninsula that contains two boroughs of New York City - Brooklyn and Queens - as well as two suburban counties - Nassau and Suffolk, which have more than 1.4 million residents.

    Federal and regional authorities are deploying additional assets throughout the North East transportation corridor today, officials said, following a 1 p.m. conference call.

    Assets under consideration for including in the beefed up law enforcement presence included a new cadre of federal air marshals that will be deployed alongside Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officers in Penn Station, Grand Central Station and other locations throughout the rail corridor.

    Regional and federal authorities held the first in their series of conference calls on the threat yesterday evening. Today's call members included Kip Hawley, the head of TSA, Deputy Chief Jim Waters, the New York City Police Dept. Chief in charge of the Joint NYPD-FBI Counter Terror Task force, and high level officials from the federal government.

    Dept. of Homeland Security, the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, as well as representatives of New York's suburban Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties, and members of various railroad police agencies.

    Authorities including the New York City Police, MTA, and New York State Dept of Homeland Security said that because traditionally heavy holiday police deployments had already been anticipated, they were able to quickly move to shift deployments, increase them in some areas, and adjust their response to the preceived threat.

    Following the public release of the warning by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, officials in Washington made efforts to dampen public concern.

    "There is nothing concrete to suggest this plot ever went beyond the aspirational or talking stage," said a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence that led to the warning.

    Law enforcement officials told ABCNews.com the information was based on an FBI source who has proved "reliable and knowledgeable in the past."

    Officials told ABCNews.com unspecified new information in the last 48 hours led to the public warning "out of an abundance of caution."

    FBI Officials Say Group Began Discussions in September

    Congressman Peter King (R-NY), the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, told the Associated Press "authorities have very real specifics as to who it is and where the conversation took place and who conducted it."

    The FBI's source reportedly told agents of an al Qaeda-connected group's desire to place bombs or suicide bombers inside the first and last Long Island Rail Road commuter cars and detonate them as the train entered Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, also used by the Washington-New York-Boston Amtrak system and the New York City subway.

    Senior FBI officials said their source said the group began its discussions "in late September."

    The officials confirmed the nature of the plot and said that FBI agents worked through the night Monday to shape the language of a memo sent to local law enforcement.

    "Transit passengers in larger metropolitan areas like New York may see an increased security presence in the coming days. This includes uniformed and plain clothed behavior detection officers, federal air marshals, canine teams, and security inspectors," said Russ Knocke, a Department of Homeland Security Spokesman. He said there were no plans to raise the current threat level.

    More Security on Busiest Travel Day of the Year

    New York City Deputy Police Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne said in a statement: "The New York City Police Department is aware of an unsubstantiated report indicating that Al Qaeda terrorists discussed targeting mass transit in New York City and vicinity. We have no information indicating that these discussions advanced beyond the aspirational stage, but in an abundance of caution, the NYPD has deployed additional resources in the mass transit system. It is not uncommon for the department to receive threat information and to adjust our resources accordingly."

    FBI and New York counter-terrorism officials involved in assessing the threat said they hardly viewed the warning as a "routine matter."

    "We are coordinating and communicating with the region's transit and security agencies to provide seamless operations during this exceptionally busy time," said Michael Balboni, the NY State Deputy Secretary for Public Safety. "This is a continuation of ongoing operations that have been in place for some time, with different patrolling mechanisms to ensure the safety of mass transit."

    The FBI warning was made public on the morning of the busiest travel day in the country. Many New York commuters leave their city jobs early on Thanksgiving eve (ABC News, 2008).

    Title: Ground Zero Emergency Drill Staged In NYC
    Date: May 17, 2009
    Source:
    CBC News

    Abstract: Hundreds of emergency employees took part in a disaster drill Sunday morning at the site in lower Manhattan where the two World Trade Center towers were struck by passenger jets and destroyed nearly eight years ago.

    Officials simulated a mock explosion in a commuter train tunnel linking New York City to New Jersey.

    Police and fire truck sirens sounded above ground, while emergency workers kept streets in the city's financial district closed to vehicle traffic and pedestrians. Officials also suspended PATH rail service during the drill.

    About 150 volunteers pretended to be victims of the explosion.

    The mock emergency involved over 800 police officers, firefighters and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials.

    It was the largest disaster drill since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers, which killed more than 2,700 people (CBC News, 2011).

    Title: Feds: Long Island Man Gave Al-Qaeda Info On City Subways, LIRR
    Date: July 22, 2009
    Source:
    NY Daily News

    Abstract: An American man charged with giving al-Qaida information on the New York transit system and attacking a U.S. military base in Afghanistan has been a secret witness in the fight against terror both here and overseas, authorities revealed Wednesday.

    Court papers unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn identified the defendant as Bryant Neal Vinas, nicknamed “Ibrahim” or “Bashir al-Ameriki,” who grew up on Long Island.

    His identity had been kept secret since his indictment late last year. Court papers show he pleaded guilty in January in a sealed courtroom in Brooklyn and remains in U.S. custody in New York.

    Federal prosecutors refused to discuss Vinas’ background Wednesday, and no court appearances were scheduled. But a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case, said Vinas provided critical information that led to a security alert about the New York City subway system last year.

    Authorities issued an alert around Thanksgiving last year saying the FBI had received a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report that al-Qaida terrorists in late September may have discussed attacking the subway system around the holidays. The origin of that report, the official said, was Vinas.

    The official described Vinas as a militant convert who was captured last year in Pakistan.

    Prosecutors charged Vinas in a rocket attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in September 2008. Court papers allege he also gave “expert advice and assistance ... on the New York transit system and Long Island Railroad.”

    For five months last year, Vinas received “military-style training” from al-Qaida, according to court papers.

    Also, a defense attorney in a terrorism case in Belgium said prosecutors there traveled to New York earlier this year to interview Vinas. The lawyer, Christophe Marchand, said Vinas had provided a statement against the French and Belgium defendants charged with going to Pakistan to volunteer to fight with al-Qaida.

    Marchand denied his client was a terrorist or knew Vinas. “He never talked about meeting an American — never,” the lawyer said.

    Vinas’ attorney, Len Kamdang, wouldn’t comment, other than requesting “the public withhold judgment in this case until all of the facts become available.”

    A woman who answered a family phone number found in public records said she was the Vinas’ mother and had not seen her son since he moved out 10 years ago at age 18.

    “He’s a stranger to me,” she said before hanging up without giving her name.

    There was no answer at the door at a family address, a two-story home with a manicured lawn and landscaping on a cul-de-sac in Patchogue, about 55 miles east of Manhattan.

    Vinas’ Peruvian-born father, Juan, told Newsday in a recent interview that federal agents had interviewed him. He said he didn’t know where his son was.

    “The FBI asked me all kinds of questions about him, but they don’t tell me nothing,” he said.

    The president of the Islamic Association of Long Island, a mosque in nearby Selden, said he recalled a “very quiet, polite, smiley” young Hispanic man called Ibrahim, who was a frequent but unassuming presence at the mosque for about a year, starting roughly 2 1/2 years ago.

    He turned up four to five times a week for services but never participated in any social activities at the mosque, said president Nayyar Imam. He said Ibrahim apparently converted to Islam and changed his name before he began coming to the mosque.

    “He’s the last person in the mosque you would think about” getting involved in terrorism, Imam said.

    In sealing the courtroom for the January guilty plea, a judge said that a public plea could harm a confidential investigation involving national security.

    The Vinas case is a rare instance of an American al-Qaida recruit cooperating with Western authorities.

    In 2004, Mohammed Junaid Babar of Queens admitted that he had traveled to the province of Waziristan to supply cash and military equipment to the terror network. Babar, who hasn’t been sentenced, became a witness against three British Muslims eventually cleared of charges they scouted out potential targets on behalf of suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters on London’s transit system in 2005 (NY Daily News, 2009).

    Title: U.S. Terror Alert Expands To Transit And Stadiums
    Date:
    September 23, 2009
    Source: CBC News

    Abstract: The U.S. government expanded a terrorism warning from transit systems to sports stadiums, hotels and entertainment complexes this week, as federal investigators look into a possible plot to set off bombs hidden in backpacks.

    Federal bulletins were sent to police departments this week saying that while no specific plots against stadiums and other entertainment venues were known, police officers and private companies were cautioned to be vigilant.

    The warnings come after the arrest on Saturday of three men, including Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport-shuttle driver who authorities say received al-Qaeda training in Pakistan and who was found entering New York City two weeks ago with bomb-making instructions on his computer.

    Zazi, his father and a local imam in New York face charges of lying to authorities in a continuing terrorism investigation.

    'Something Very Organized was Underway'

    Authorities claim in court documents that Zazi played a direct role in the alleged terror plot, although officials have said they don't know the timing or location of any planned attack.

    "It's not totally clear to us at this point what it is they had in mind, though I think it is clear that something very serious and something very organized was underway," Attorney General Eric Holder told CBS.

    The bulletins to stadiums note that al-Qaeda's training manual makes specific instruction for "blasting and destroying the places of amusement, immorality and sin ... and attacking vital economic centers."

    Sports officials from the major hockey, football, baseball and basketball leagues in North America said they were confident they had adequate measures in place to thwart a potential attack

    "We are aware of the memos from the federal government, including that there is no information specific to any sports stadium," National Football League spokesman Greg Aiello said.

    "This underscores the high levels of stadium security that are maintained and will continue to be maintained at every NFL game for the safety of our fans and teams."

    Sports Fans Unconcerned by Latest Warning

    National Hockey League spokesman Frank Brown said security is a collaborative effort for the league.

    "We work closely with our arenas and local law enforcement agencies to create a safe, secure environment for our fans at all times," he said. "We work with our partners continually to update and apply appropriate security measures to address security concerns."

    Sports fans said the latest warnings wouldn't affect their plans.

    "If it happens, it happens," said Lynn Calhoun, an Indianapolis computer programmer who visited Conseco Fieldhouse — the home of the Indiana Pacers — to purchase orchestra tickets.

    "Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? You can't just go and hide out in Canada for a month."

    At a Cleveland Indians game, Jess Pryor said she thinks most fans don't worry about their safety at games.

    "It will be that way until something else happens again," she said.

    New York's transit agency said it has increased police presence around the city, in part because of the meeting in the city of the United Nations General Assembly.

    Thousands of visitors and politicians are also scheduled to meet in Pittsburgh on Thursday for a two-day Group of 20 economic summit (CBC News, 2009).

    Title: Metro Transit Police Stage Large Anti-Terrorism Drill
    Date: February 3, 2010
    Source: Washington Post

    Abstract: Metro Transit Police staged their largest anti-terrorism sweep ever during Tuesday morning's rush hour, as about 50 officers -- some toting M-4 rifles and others guiding bomb-sniffing dogs -- took up position in Union Station in a new initiative aimed at discouraging attacks.

    In coming months, they plan to hold similar drills for the effort, dubbed Blue TIDE (Terrorism Identification and Deterrence Effort).

    Robert Rotz, 50, did a double take when he ran into two officers wearing body armor and shouldering rifles.

    "This will make people think twice if they are trying to do something," said Rotz, a computer specialist who commutes from Shady Grove.

    A delegation of senior Indian police officers observed Tuesday's drill. "They are very interested in the technology used in the United States to help prevent attacks," said Deputy Chief Erhart M. Olson of the Metro Transit Police.

    Metro is planning exercises this month modeled after terrorist attacks in Madrid, London and Mumbai. About 200 to 300 police officers and other emergency responders from across the region will take part in tactical exercises Feb. 12, 13 and 24 that will include simulations of the bombing of a Metrobus, an explosion in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stations, and shooters at the Friendship Heights Metro station.

    Under the State Department anti-terrorism assistance program, Olson and Amtrak Police Chief John O'Connor traveled to India last summer to learn about rail system security there after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

    Metro's new 20-member antiterrorism police unit is also working to increase the information that can be gleaned from surveillance cameras in the Metro system, said Lt. G.W. Burns III, who is in charge of the effort. "We like to throw in a new tactic, so the bad guys don't know what to expect," Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said (Washington Post, 2010).

    Title: Friendship Heights Anti-Terror Drill
    Date: February 22, 2010
    Source: Washington Post

    Abstract: Metro police and other emergency personnel will descend on the Friendship Heights Station starting at 11:30 Wednesday night for an anti-terrorist exercise in which mock gunmen open fire, killing or wounding several passengers.

    The exercise is intended to test the ability of local governments to coordinate and respond to a major incident in the Metro system. The simulated incident, involving role players as gunmen and passengers, will begin at 12:30 a.m. Feb. 25, after the station closes. Agencies responding will include the Metro police special response team, as well as fire, police and emergency medical personnel from the District, Montgomery County and the FBI, according to a Metro statement.

    "It's important to test and practice our response to this type of crisis that would impact Metro's ability to provide safe and essential transportation services," said Jeff Delinski, acting chief of Metro Transit Police, in the statement.

    The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments fire chiefs obtained a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund the exercise (Washington Post, 2010).

    Title: NYPD Leading Massive Terror Drill
    Date: April 1, 2010
    Source:
    New York Post

    Abstract: Hundreds of cops flooded Penn Station, Grand Central and Herald Square this morning in a post-Moscow drill to see how prepared law enforcement is for a terrorist attack on the city's subways and commuter trains.

    Officers from the NYPD transit bureau, National Guard and the police forces of the MTA, Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit all took part, officials said.

    "During [today]'s morning rush hour, no matter what exit or entrance you use at those stations, you will run into a cop," a police source said.

    Multi-Agency Super Surge drills to see how cops would coordinate if terrorists attacked have been held here for more than two years, usually with two weeks' notice.

    Mayor Bloomberg told reporters today's drill was preplanned, but a source said it was ordered up Monday, hours after the suicide bombings at two Moscow metro stations killed at least 39 people (New York Post, 2010).

    Title: Terrorism Training In New York
    Date:
    April 23, 2010
    Source:
    DVIDS

    Abstract: The New York City Fire Department and the Marines' Chemical Biological Incident Response Force responded to a simulated exploded bus, a subway chemical attack, a building collapse and two IED attacks, April 22.

    The all-day exercise was the culmination of a weeklong training evolution at FDNY Fire Academy on Randall's Island pairing Marines and firefighters. The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, based in Indian Head, Md., has a history with the FDNY going back to the unit's founding in 1996. Deputy Chief and Marine veteran Raymond Downey helped develop the original training for the unit. After he died in the World Trade Center rescue effort, their training facility was named after Downey.

    CBIRF is never in command of an incident, instead they respond and augment at the request of local, state or federal agencies, said Col. John Pollock, CBIRF commanding officer. The Marines go to large-scale events, such as presidential visits and sporting events, so they can respond quickly in case of emergency.

    The Marines can assist local emergency services when they may get overwhelmed in a large-scale disaster.

    "These guys are cut from the same cloth that we are. We are both men and women of action. When most people see explosions, fire, or hear the sound of guns they head the other way, these are ones heading into the danger to make a difference and save lives," said Major Michael S. Johnson, CBIRF operations officer.

    As soon as firefighters cleared away victims from a bus bombing, another set of victims came coughing and choking looking for help. The firefighters called up the Marines and sent them into the smoke filled, mock subway tunnel.

    Sgt. Cody Mcgrew, CBIRF recon team leader, was one of the first Marines into the subway.

    "All we knew was there was a subway attack," said the Muscatine, Iowa native.
    They rushed into the subway covered in protective suits with handfuls of detection equipment searching for the type of chemical used in the attack.

    Mcgrew's team can identify more than 500,000 chemicals, he said. Once they identify it, they can recommend what the rescue teams should wear.

    If they don't wear enough they can become victims of the chemical attack, but if they overdress the cumbersome gear can make life saving more difficult, he said.

    Staff Sgt. Kelly Vansickle, rescue team member, was sweat-soaked by the time he stepped out of his chemical protective suit at the end of the exercise. He had spent the afternoon carrying or dragging people on special sleds out of the subway chemical attack simulation.

    Rescue team members train for these mass casualty events, preparing for possibly 100 or more injured, he said. He can only carry one at a time, and with the clock ticking on survivability, he has to quickly triage and move the right people.

    "The first thing is get people to fresh air, that can help a lot," he said. "We need to clear the area as quick as possible."

    "When you call the Marines, they're going to get the job done," said Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano standing in front of the Marines scrubbing and spraying victims as they came out of the smokey subway, and then passing them to fire department medical personnel.

    "This is a true joint operation and the picture of interoperability," said Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano. "The city fire department is better trained to respond after today" (DVIDS, 2010).

    Title: Anti-Terrorism Drills Staged At Metro Stations
    Date: June 30, 2010
    Source:
    Washington Post

    Abstract: "What's going on?" a startled Allan Valdez, 27, asked as he approached his usual spot on the platform at the Forest Glen Metro station and found it occupied by two Metro Transit Police officers carrying automatic rifles.

    "It's a random security sweep," said Officer Ryan Scheucher, a member of the force's Special Response Team.

    "This morning, your station is just the lucky winner!" Scheucher told another surprised commuter.

    Metro Transit Police boarded trains and inspected stations for about four hours Tuesday morning as they staged an anti-terrorism drill from Silver Spring to Glenmont and from Bethesda to Shady Grove on the Red Line. The exercise included Greenbelt Station on the Green Line, where the Greenbelt Police Department participated.

    About 150 officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies took part in the drill, part of the Blue TIDE (Terrorism Identification and Deterrence Effort) initiative launched in February to demonstrate Metro's vigilance against terrorism. In December, Metro created a 20-member anti-terrorism unit funded by a $9.6 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Metro Transit Police had about 60 officers involved in Tuesday's drills, including members of the anti-terrorism, special response and K-9 explosives detection teams.

    Other East Coast cities, including New York, carried out similar anti-terrorism exercises Tuesday, part of a coordinated, regional effort along the Northeast Corridor called Rail Safe, Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said. Terrorist groups have targeted large urban subway systems in London, Moscow and Mumbai in recent years.

    About 100 officers from the New York Police Department were at Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and Herald Square beginning at 7 a.m., performing additional bag screenings and inspections of trains and subways.

    In Washington, the heightened security presence provoked a flurry of questions from curious commuters who, on the whole, reacted positively to the drill.

    Valdez, a Web specialist at the Department of Health and Human Services, called the drill "cool," and asked whether he could stand next to the police officers on the platform.

    "A lot of people are coming up and saying 'thank you,' " said Metro Transit Police Sgt. Sean Flinn. Other groups participating in Blue TIDE included the Montgomery County and Rockville police, Maryland Transit Administration Police, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, the Federal Protective Service and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

    At Forest Glen, about a dozen law enforcement officers patrolled the station, including members of the TSA's Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) team.

    "We are looking for people who want to harm mass transit," said David Johnson, special agent in charge at TSA and VIPR program manager. "Most people appreciate it."

    Several teams of federal air marshals took part in the Metro anti-terrorism drill, as well as some "behavioral detection officers who look for people exhibiting suspicious behaviors," Johnson said.

    At Greenbelt Station, the heavy police presence attracted the attention of commuter Kerry Hotopp, who e-mailed The Washington Post that he saw a Prince George's County SWAT vehicle parked at the station entrance about 9:30 a.m. "No fewer than a dozen police officers with assault rifles were present throughout the station, along with a few people in TSA uniforms," he wrote.

    This is the latest in a series of anti-terrorism activities and drills for Metro. In February, Metro Transit Police staged an anti-terrorism sweep in Union Station during the morning rush hour. In March, transit police simulated explosions on a train and a bus to test their coordination with other regional agencies (Washington Post, 2010).

    Title: Cops, Bomb-Sniffing Dogs Out In Full Force For Operation RailSafe
    Date: October 8, 2010
    Source: NBC

    Abstract: Notice a little machine gun-toting, bomb-sniffing dog-leading company on your commute this morning?

    Don't worry, it was just a drill.

    Bomb squads and police in bulletproof vests were out in force at major transit hubs throughout the city, including Penn Station, Grand Central and Herald Square, as part of Operation RailSafe, a national anti-terror exercise designed to practice preparation and response in the event of a terrorist threat on the mass transit facilities.

    While authorities said no specific threat incited today's surge, Commissioner Raymond Kelly pointed out, "40 percent of the attacks in the last 20 years have been against transit facilities."

    Uniformed officers also rode the rails with bomb-sniffing dogs and held bag checkpoints at various locations as part of the drill. Police stepped up patrol along highly trafficked Amtrak routes and put more cops in the stations (NBC, 2010).

    Title: White Powder Scare In New York
    Date: November 11, 2010
    Source: 
    Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: A white powder sent to the corporate office of the firm that operates and owns New York Sports Clubs in Greenburgh, New York, was not a biological weapon, according to police.

    The powder was sent in a suspicious envelope from somewhere in New York state, according to LoHud.com.

    The first floor of the office building of Town Sports International, located at 399 Executive Blvd., was forced to evacuate on Tuesday morning after receiving the envelope.

    The address on the white, business-sized envelope did not indicate a particular recipient, police Capt. Christopher McNerney told LoHud.com. He said that the suspicious envelope was mailed from outside of Westchester County and did not offer additional details pending the results of an ongoing investigation.

    The envelope came into contact with four employees after its 10 a.m. delivery, including a woman who touched the unknown white powdery substance on the folding ridge line of the letter, LoHud.com reports. Afterward, the woman reported itching and skin irritation.

    The evacuation included over 70 people from the first floor of the building while a mobile decontamination station was set up to treat the postal worker and the four employees, LoHud.com reports.

    The evacuation and decontamination included a team effort of multiple local and federal departments throughout Greenburgh and Westchester County (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).

    Title: White Powder Found At ABC’s New York Office
    Date: March 4, 2011
    Source: 
    Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: ABC announced recently that a suspicious pile of white powder that had been found in their New York office was actually instant soup.

    ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said that employees were back at their desks in the building located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and that the all clear had been given, according to Reuters.

    Authorities have been on the alert for mail laced with white powder since the anthrax attacks of 2001. During the attacks, envelopes containing anthrax were sent to the offices of lawmakers and media outlets. Five people died as a result.

    In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its findings, which have not gone over well with some in congress.

    The FBI believes a sole individual is responsible for the mailings – Bruce Ivins, a U.S. Army scientist that worked at the Army’s biodefense lab in Fort Detrick Maryland. Ivins committed suicide as authorities closed in on him as their suspect.

    To some on Capitol Hill, the question remains whether or not Ivins worked alone on the anthrax mailings. Some believe Ivins must have had help in handling the deadly contagion.

    "Were there people who at the very least were accessories after the fact? I think there were," Patrick Leahy, who was targeted during that time, said, according to the Washington Post.

    "It is mystifying. Given the limited number of people who have experience with anthrax, you just wouldn't think it would be this hard," an official familiar with the investigation said, according to the Washington Post (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

    Title: Battery Park City Holds Chemical Attack Simulation
    Date:
     March 15, 2011
    Source:
     Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: In New York City, the Battery Park City Community Emergency Response Team recently met to conduct its first terror evacuation drill since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

    The drill was created to test the area’s emergency response to an attack that utilized either chemical weapons or explosives, according to DNAInfo.com.

    "You can never prepare too much," Hank Wisner, deputy chief of the Battery Park City CERT, said, according to DNAInfo.com.

    Wisner was in charge of approximately 100 volunteers who began working at 7 a.m. to conduct the drill in Southern Battery Park. The local residents, who had been previously trained, listened to the scenario and then quickly broke into teams.

    Residents participated in search and rescue, animal search and rescue, medical triage, traffic control, maritime evacuation and other scenarios.

    The triage team set up in the Merchants River House, a local restaurant, DNAInfo.com reports. Mock patients came to the establishment complaining of heart attacks, broken bones, asthma and shock. Some pretended not to speak English in order to simulate a language barrier.

    "We were surprised by how few mistakes were made," Wisner said, DNAInfo.com reports. "It just went like clockwork."

    Wisner said that it would be difficult to predict what would happen in the event of a real disaster.

    "In every event with mass casualties, there's always going to be chaos," Wisner said, according to DNAInfo.com. "It never goes according to plan."

    The CERT’s role is to supplement the city’s first response teams, to keep order until they can arrive and then to help them control the situation. Battery Park City’s CERT was the first created in the city shortly after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks (Bio Prep Watch, 2011)

    Title: New York Subway System Seen As Likely Bioterror Target
    Date: July 19, 2011
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: The possibility that the New York subway system could be the next target of a terrorist attack has lead to a new acceptance of suspicious package alerts, bomb-sniffing dogs and cameras trained on commuters and passengers.

    Since the terrorist attack that brought down New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, subways have been targeted for attacks multiple times. Mass transit lines in Madrid, London, Moscow and, this spring, Minsk, Belarus, have all seen attacks in the last decade, according to MyFoxNY.com.

    New York Police Department officers with heavy body armor and high-powered rifles and police commanders carrying smart phone-size radiation detectors have become commonplace.

    Authorities said that a serious attack on New York's 24 hour subway system, which has more than 400 stations, could cripple the city in worse ways than the 2001 attack. The system is the largest in the United States, with more than 800 miles of track. Last year, it carried more than 5.2 million passengers on an average weekday, more than double the number that pass through U.S. airports every year.

    “It's really a potentially very vulnerable environment — one that you can't totally protect," William Bratton, a security firm executive who was chief of the New York City transit police, said, MyFoxNY.com reports. "That's the reality of it. It's a unique challenge."

    So far, no one has pulled off such an attack in New York City, but there have been a number of scares. In 2010, a homegrown al-Qaeda operative, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty to plotting a rush hour suicide attack. In 2004, the NYPD foiled a bomb plot at Manhattan’s Herald Square subway station.

    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley said that the NYPD is going to extraordinary lengths to make its presence known in the subways in order to give terrorists something to think about.

    The new counterterror arsenal includes more than 30 dogs trained to smell for explosives, silent alarms and motion detectors to prevent tampering with ventilation systems, and a vast number of security cameras with live feeds.

    Random bag searches, once challenged as a civil rights violation, are conducted tens of thousands of times every year with barely a complaint made against them, MyFoxNY.com reports. The department has also started using high-tech detection devices to screen riders for peroxides or nitrates common in homemade explosive (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

    Title: NYPD Prepares Bioattack Contingency For New Year’s Eve
    Date: December 29, 2011
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: The New York Police Department will utilize biological and radiation detection devices in Times Square this year to guard against a terrorist attack on New Year’s Eve.

    In addition to the detection devices, decontamination facilities will also be set up, backpacks will not be allowed, garages will be search and surveillance operations will be conducted.

    “It will be a full fledged deployment of our resources,” Commissioner Ray Kelly told MyFOXNY.com. “We assume New York is the number one target and we’ve assumed that since January 2002. There are no guarantees. We are doing more than any other city to keep us safe from a terrorist attack, but there are no guarantees. We live in a dangerous world.”

    The NYPD refers to its suite of protections, which also includes a massive police presence and officers scanning the crowds, as a counterterrorism overlay.

    Little has been done to adjust to any terrorist threats following the recent attempted terrorist attack of a U.S. airplane in Detroit. The NYPD has said that its security plan is comprehensive and did not need to be changed.

    There are no known or published biological threats against the city at this time, but the security measures that are in place are being called the most sophisticated safeguards against biological and chemical weapons since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

    Hundreds of thousands of revelers are expected to take part in Manhattan’s New Year’s Eve festivities, Times Square Alliance’s web site estimates, making it a prime target for a biological based attack (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

    Title: Mystery Illness At LeRoy High School Spreads To 15 Students
    Date: January 26, 2012
    Source: Huffington Post

    Abstract: The mystery illness that hit 12 girls at LeRoy High School in upstate New York -- which was recently diagnosed by a local doctor as conversion disorder -- has now spread to more teens at the school. The New York State Health Department confirms to local NBC affiliate WGRZ that they have seen 15 cases of students exhibiting the same Tourettes-like symptoms, including one boy.

    The 12 girls who were initially exhibiting strange Tourette's-like tics and uncontrollable verbal outbursts several months ago, as well as three more students, are thought to have a particular type of conversion disorder known as mass psychogenic illness, an ailment in which psychological stress is expressed physically. School officials told TODAY that environmental factors in the school building or surrounding areas are not to blame, and the cause of the outbreak remains uncertain.

    To get a second opinion on their diagnosis, students may elect to travel to the National Institute of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland for further testing. The testing will be free of charge, and will involve a physical examination as well as possible clinical neurophysiological testing.

    Conversion disorder is a main area of research at the NIH facility, and those who are eligible may participate in the ongoing research study there (Huffington Post, 2012)