New York Vigilant, United States Stands Firm in Condemnation of Terror
International terrorism has headlined news in multiple countries around the world in recent weeks. During the week past, Israeli diplomats were targeted in Tbilisi, Georgia and New Delhi, India. Other attempted attacks in Thailand an d Azerbaijan were averted.
Israel has reacted strongly to the attacks on its diplomats. Senior officials condemned the terrorism. President Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem, said, “We will continue to defend and protect our citizens anywhere in the world. These acts of terrorism will not deter us.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “In each instance (of attempted terror) we succeeded in foiling the attacks in cooperation with local authorities. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks.” The Foreign Minister, Abigdor Liberman said “It just shows that Israel and its citizens face terror inside and outside of Israel. We deal with it every day. We know how to identify exactly who is responsible for the attack and who carried it out. We will not allow this to affect our agenda.” Speaking from Singapore, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said “Iran and its proxies are continuing to employ terror” and are “relentless terror elements” that “pose a danger to the region and to the world’s stability.”
Some three weeks ago, in a January 24 speech, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz discussed the probability of “proxy attacks” by Hezbollah. “We are witnesses to the ongoing attempts by Hezbollah and other hostile entities to execute vicious terror attacks at locations far away from the state of Israel,” said Israel’s military chief.
The United States has condemned the bombing in India, and another one at the same time in Georgia. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “The scourge of terrorism is an affront to the entire international community,” “The United States places a high priority on the safety and security of diplomatic personnel around the world and we stand ready to assist with any investigation of these cowardly actions.”
For more than a decade, the United States has avoided incidents of terror that have rocked the international community. Credit for the general safety enjoyed by Americans can be attributed to the diligence of the local police forces and intense federal security efforts. In New York City, one of the most sensitive and compelling potential targets for terror, safety measures put in place by the New York Police Department continue to provide safety throughout the City’s diverse communities.
Asked for his comments by the Algemeiner NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne responded that “The NYPD adjusts its counter-terrorism posture to include information about events overseas. That’s why the public may have noticed increased NYPD presence in recent weeks at Israeli government facilities and synagogues, although there has been no specific threat in New York.” The commissioner continued, saying “The public has been attentive, as well, reporting suspicious packages. For example, the NYPD Bomb Squad responded to a report this morning (February 13, 2012) of a suspicious package on Wall Street, near Deutsche Bank’s New York headquarters. A few blocks of Wall Street, between Williams and Pearl Streets, were closed for about 40 minutes while a bomb squad detective suited up and investigated. The package turned out to be unattended luggage.”
Congressman Gary Ackerman, Democrat senior member of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, has condemned the attacks on Israeli diplomats, citing Iran as “the likely culprit.” The Queens, New York based Representative supports the imposition of “crippling economic sanctions” and consideration of “military action to prevent Iran’s nuclear proliferation.”
The Congressman noted that in October, 2011, a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, at a Washington, DC restaurant by an operative tied to Iran was uncovered and stopped. Speaking to Robin Robinson of ABC News following the plotter’s arrest, Vice President Joe Biden called the alleged plot, which would have been an attack on American soil, “over the top.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the plan “conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran” was a “flagrant” violation of U.S. and international law. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in responding to the attacks on Israeli diplomats, looked at the wider implications. Conference President Richard Stone and Executive Director Malcolm Hoenlein called the attacks a “severe danger to international diplomacy” noting “civilization’s historical commitment to the safety of diplomats.”
The recent actions against Israeli diplomats, and the implication that these are backed by Iran, are neither new nor unique. Iran has been listed as “a state sponsor” of terrorism by the U.S. State Department since 1984, and is believed to have been behind the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1992.
The United States has created a significant infrastructure designed to find and stop terrorists and terrorist activities before they occur. Until recently the government’s preparations included a color-coded terror alert system, (recently amended) institution of the Patriot Act, and development of the Homeland Security Department. Americans, cognizant of the threats from both exported and “home-grown” terrorists, have accepted changes to basic lifestyles. Increased airport security checks, picture identification required to enter most large buildings, and the admonition that “if you see something, say something” have become accepted. The presence of soldiers at major transportation hubs or armed police in urban settings raises little response. The threat of terror challenges the openness and tolerance of American – and Western – society.
A tourist, recently returned from a cultural “mission” to Israel commented on the normality of everyday living, noting the vibrancy and future orientation of the country. In the face of, or perhaps in spite of, perceived threats, both existential and limited, life continues. “We will have to act on the terror front and continue preparing for the challenges that lie ahead of us,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Heroes are made without planning. Tal Yehoshua Koren, the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry official, who’s car was bombed Monday, learned that so very quickly. “She possesses amazing levelheadedness; not everyone would have conducted themselves this way,” her brother told YNET.