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Chossudovsky: The New York City Terror Alert

Global Research Feature Article

The New York City Terror Alert

"Imminent terror attack" on NYC subway according to "expert opinion"
by Michel Chossudovsky
October 11, 2005

In the words of former White House Adviser on Counter-Terrorism Richard A Clarke, who is now working as a "consultant for ABC News":

"The information from all this says there is going to be an attack, and it is going to be in New York."

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the terror attack in New York City was being masterminded out of Iraq by Al Zarqawi sponsored terrorists.

"It's entirely possible for terrorists with the support of a terrorist infrastructure to leave Iraq and end up in Manhattan," Clarke said. (ABC News, 7 October 2005)

Disinformation was being fed into the news chain. Realities are turned upside down.

In an utterly twisted logic, the Iraqi insurgents were preparing to attack America.

(Richard A. Clarke who served as White House counterterrorism adviser under Bush senior, Clinton and Bush Junior, is fully aware that successive US administrations since Jimmy Carter have provided, as part of an intelligence operation, covert support to Al Qaeda.)

Mysterious Iraqi Informant

According to a mysterious Iraqi informant, ":Al Qaeda in Iraq" terrorists had travelled unnoticed from Iraq to the US. They had set up "a team of operatives" in America, which was preparing an attack in Manhattan. The latter had been scheduled for either October 7 or October 9, using a baby stroller, briefcases and/or baggage to set off up to 19 timed bombs in the New York subway.

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"A Department of Homeland Security memo warned that a team of terrorists may have travelled to New York to put remote-controlled bombs in briefcases and baby carriages in an attack scheduled on or around Sunday." (Hobart News, 10 Oct 2005)

"But the bulletin provided certain details, including that the information about the possible threat indicated that a team of operatives ''some of whom may travel to or who may be in the New York City area'' might attempt an attack on or about Oct. 9. It also said that the terrorists might use remote-controlled or timed explosives concealed inside or underneath baby carriages, in briefcases or suitcases." (NYT, 8 October 2005)

"According to information gathered, the target date for a possible terror attack on New York subways is this Sunday, Oct. 9. Yet, American officials cannot seem to agree if that gathered information is credible. Today, New York officials acted as if an attack could be imminent. Thousands of extra police officers were put on patrol. Baggage checks, bomb-sniffing dogs and repetitive announcements urging passengers to report anything unusual were constant reminders of the possible danger." (ABC News, 7 October 2005)

The information provided by the Iraqi informant had apparently allowed for the arrest of three insurgents, who had been questioned in Iraq by the US military authorities:

"Meanwhile, a third suspect was detained in Iraq in connection with the alleged terror plot, fingered by an informant. That source says terrorists are already here in New York City. While officials dispute the reliability of the threat, New Yorkers have to live with the fear of the unknown." (ABC News, 8 October 2005)

"Series of Arrests"

According to one report, the interrogation of the three arrested insurgents had allowed US police authorities to track down the US based terrorist cell and conduct "a series of arrests". These arrests had apparently been instrumental in thwarting a major bomb attack on the New York subway system:.

"Terrorists had been set to attack New York's subway today [October 9] with bombs in briefcases and baby buggies, FBI chiefs revealed after a series of arrests last week disrupted the plot. Although there were doubts over the extent of the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to go public." (Sunday Mirror, 8 October 2005, italics added)

The investigation into an alleged plot to bomb the city's subway moved forward on several fronts yesterday as a third suspect was arrested in Iraq and authorities looked into whether a fourth person had travelled to New York as part of the scheme, officials said.

A law enforcement official said the man's trip to New York was described by an informant who had spent time in Afghanistan and proved reliable in past investigations.

"He's been a source of multiple correct information in the past," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation. "Does that mean a fourth person he identified is in fact in New York? We don't know that."

Alarmed by the informant's report of a plot to attack city subways with as many as 19 bombs in bags and possibly baby strollers, U.S. forces in Iraq arrested two suspected plotters who had been under close surveillance until Thursday morning, officials said. The third escaped until his arrest yesterday.

City officials posted thousands of additional uniformed and plainclothes officers throughout the subway system and warned New Yorkers to keep their eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. (Hamilton Spectator, 8 October 2005)

It was unclear whether the "series of arrests" referred to Iraq or New York City. The arrest of the three Iraqi based plotters was confirmed, but there were no details regarding the alleged plotters in NYC, who had apparently been uncovered as a result of the intelligence out of Iraq.

The above report also points to a fourth person, who had links to the three arrested in Iraq, and who allegedly traveled to the US, connecting up with a US based al Qaeda cell.

There were allegedly some 19 bombs to be detonated in a highly sophisticated operation. One would expect that in a high profile case of a planned bomb attack in NYC, that both the tabloids and network television would have gone into full gear, providing detailed coverage, with names, pictures, maps, times and places. Yet, by the weekend the reporting on this thwarted attack on America by "Enemy Number One" had subsided, relegated to the inner pages of the printed press.

Meanwhile, by the close of markets on Friday, billions of dollars of speculative gains were reaped on the World's bourses, as gold prices spiraled. Was there prior knowledge of the code orange terror alert for New York City, which might have been transmitted to key financial actors?

There were apparent "disagreements" between Washington and New York, between Homeland Security and the NYPD. The news reports conveyed the impression that there while were honest "differences of opinion", the terror threat was real: Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly "did the right thing" in sending in heavily armed police into the New York subway.

Déjà Vu

The ":intelligence" pertaining to the New York subway system had been fed into the news chain. It originally emanated from the Pentagon and Homeland Security.

There was a sense of déjà vu. It was rerun of several previous post 9/11 code orange terror alerts, in which "solid intelligence" turned out to be "faulty" or "unreliable".

In fact, even Tom Ridge upon retiring from the DHS admitted that the post 9/11 terror alerts were often based on "flimsy evidence" and that he had been pressured by the CIA and the Pentagon to raise the threat level:

The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level… Ridge [said] .he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it…Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' " (USA Today , 10 May 2005. For further details see )

A review of three high profile post 9/11 code orange terror alerts confirms in all three cases that the intelligence had been fabricated.

1. February 7, 2003, Two days after Colin Powell's Feb 5 presentation to the UN Security Council, in the month prior to the invasion of Iraq,
( )

2. December 21, Christmas 2003
(See and )

3. July 29th 2004, on the same day as John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. The code orange alert served to galvanize US public opinion in favor of Bush's "war on terrorism" in the months leading up to the November 2004 elections.

(For details on the fabricated intelligence see

In all three cases, Tom Ridge's warnings on the nature of the threat were categorical. The official announcements by the Homeland Security Department had dispelled any lingering doubts regarding the threat level:

"the risk [during the Christmas 2003 period] is perhaps greater now than at any point since September 11, 2001;" "indications that [the] near-term attacks ... will either rival or exceed the [9/11] attacks". "And it's pretty clear that the nation's capital and New York city would be on any list..."

"Solid Intelligence" turn out to be "Flimsy"

In all three cases, the solid intellligence presented by Homeland Secuirty turned out to be "flimsy".

Similarly, in the case of the New York subway terror alert, there was solid intelligence at the outset, which justified a code orange alert in New York City. Bloomberg's statements pointed to the specific nature of the intelligence including a precise "timeline".

According to Mayor Bloomberg in an NBC interview:

This was a little bit different than the other threats. It was specific to the subways. It had a specific time line. It came from sources which had more credibility than normal, although in the intelligence world, there's no guarantees. If you waited to make sure all your information was accurate, you'd only find out after an event had taken place.

But it was serious enough based on FBI information for Ray Kelly and I to take a look and say we should enhance the security that we are providing to the subway system--more bag searches, more police presence that you see, cops on the platforms and more undercover cops. We waited a couple of days because overseas, in Iraq, our military forces along with the intelligence services were about to try to grab some of the people that allegedly were going to try to attack us. The time line on the threat was such that we didn't think there was anything to worry about for a couple of days so they could have that period of time. They did mount their operation and at that point, Ray and I said we just have to start beefing up the security in our system. And once you do that, it's obvious to the public [knows] something's going on, so we held a press conference. And I think the public has a right to know. But you're always torn between when do you say it, if it's going to jeopardize the ability to prevent it and the public wanting to know what's going on. (WNBC News Forum , 8 Oct 2005)

Barely a few days later (October 11), official statements on an impending attack, confirmed that the "intelligence" out of Iraq had turned out to be faulty:

New York officials described the threat last week as alarming for its specificity and timing, noting that information on the possible plot was strong enough to prompt a military operation that swept up three Iraqi men thought to be involved.

Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the information in the case is classified, said that an American investigation, conducted largely in Iraq, has yielded no evidence that a plot was in motion or being actively contemplated. The outlines of the alleged plot, based on the word of an informant, were that Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq were coordinating with others, some perhaps already in New York, to hide bombs in baby strollers, packages and briefcases and blow them up in subways.

But the officials said that after taking the three men into custody last week in Iraq, they found no fake passports, no travel documents, no viable travel route from Iraq to New York, and no apparent contact or telephone calls from those in Iraq to people in New York. In addition, the officials said that two of the men detained in Iraq had been given polygraph tests that indicated they were not part of any plot. (NYT, 11 Oct 2005, italics added)

It is worth noting that part of this "intelligence" had, according to the reports, already been transmitted from Iraq following the arrest and interrogation of the three insurgents. This "intelligence" was the basis for both the terror warnings and the earlier media reports.

The Road towards Martial Law

The October New York subway bomb threats should be seen in the broader context. They are part of the post 9/11 disinformation campaign. They belong to a "consensus building process" which is intended to eventually spearhead the nation into a martial law situation.

Since 9/11, the Bush administration has time and again warned that martial law could be instated in the case of a terrorist attack on the Homeland, in which US Northern Command (NorthCom) would intervene.

More recently President Bush has hinted at the height of Hurricane Rita, that the military could also become the "lead agency" in a humanitarian disaster (as distinct from a terrorist attack), overriding civilian government authorities.

In the last couple of months, following Hurricane Katrina and Rita, the Bali Bombings, the threat of the avian flu, the administration has been pushing for a greater role for the Military.

At the height of the each crisis or catastrophe, the role military is advocated by the President and Commander in Chief:

Hurricane Katrina and Rita

"The Government and the US military needed broader authority to help handle major domestic crises such as hurricanes." (President Bush, late September)

Avian Flu Bush's White House Press Conference: (October 4, 2005)

BUSH The policy decisions for a president in dealing with an avian flu outbreak are difficult.

BUSH: And who best to be able to effect a quarantine?

One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have.

Each of these dramatic occurrences has provided a pretext to the administration to formally raise the issue of an expanded role for the military in the country's civilian affairs.

A series of justifications are being put forth almost simultaneously to bear out the instatement of martial law.

Al Qaeda: Upcoming Super Power

Meanwhile, the tone and rhetoric of America's presidential speeches had taken on a new slant.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is presented not only as a terrorist threat, but as an upcoming economic, political and military power, capable of effectively challenging the US.

Al Qaeda is said to have an imperial design over a vast geographic region extending from Western Europe to South East Asia. In the words of president Bush:

"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply. (See, Speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, Oct 6, 2005, )

It is not America which seeks to dominate the World, with US troops present in some 120 countries and a 450 billion dollar annual defense budget.

Al Qaeda is presented as a competing super-power, comparable to the Soviet Union:

" The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride... (Ibid)

The media pundits and columnists applaud in chorus. The Washington-based foreign policy analysts, the intelligentsia in the country's universities and research institutions, for the most part, remain silent or acquiescent.

The lies and war crimes are upheld. With some exceptions, the ridicule of presidential discourse, which has far-reaching implications at home and abroad, is not an object of serious discussion.


Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), He is the author of a America's "War on Terrorism", Global Research, September 2005.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky,, 2005

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