Big Apple less worried about al-Qaida attack this July 4

FBI says there's “no specific or credible information” of plans to carry out terrorist attack. Still, urges people to remain vigilant.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
July 3, 2011 03:55
2 minute read.
New York City skyline.

new york skyline. (photo credit: Gary Hershorn / Reuters)

 
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NEW YORK – New Yorkers are busy celebrating this Fourth of July weekend, and the US’s first Independence Day since al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a daring raid in Pakistan.

Unlike in previous years, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said there is currently “no specific or credible information” that hostile organizations are planning to carry out a terrorist attack on US soil. Still, they urged people to remain vigilant.

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Since the 9/11 attacks of 2001 in which al-Qaida hijackers crashed passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands, such warnings have become part and parcel of almost every major national holiday. This year, however, an anecdotal survey of people on the street suggests those fears have somewhat abated.

Tom McGeveran, co-founder and editor of Capital New York, a local news website, said the death of bin Laden was irrelevant to his holiday, which he planned to spend with friends at a barbecue in Brooklyn.

“It’s been 10 years and I don’t think people think of that immediately when they think of big holidays anymore,” McGeveran said. “They just do what they’d normally do.”

Maydell Bovain, an employee at an Ace Hardware store in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, said he felt uplifted by news that bin Laden was killed, and that Americans “needed” it in order to feel safe.

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“When we bunch up into large groups of people, sometimes people will be having doubts and they don’t want to come out and get involved in the festivities over everything that’s going on in the world,” Bovain said. “It feels good, a relaxing feeling that you can just go out and have fun with your family without having to worry.”

Asaf Khan, who runs a deli in the East Village, said bin Laden’s death was a “blessing” and showed the US would retaliate against its enemies.

“The world is a better place without this villain,” Khan said.

“There are still many bad people who want to do harm, but I think it’s a good thing for this Independence Day that he is not around.”

At the same time, the FBI speculated that the killing of bin Laden might spur al-Qaida sympathizers into a bid to avenge his death. It said large gatherings such as when people watch the fireworks display over the Hudson River on July 4 could be on terrorists’ sights.

“Such targets offer the opportunity to inflict mass casualties, with the added objectives of causing economic and psychological damage on the United States,” the FBI warned.

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